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Hostels are spared as Rome doubles hotel tax

01 September 2014
1 Sep 2014 -
coat_of_arms_of_rome

Hotel tax in Italy is to double from today – adding up to €112 (£89) to the cost of a one-week holiday for a family of four.

The increase – approved by Italian authorities just five weeks ago – means those staying in a five-star hotel must pay €7 per person per night (£5.53) on top of their room rate, up from €3 (£2.37).

For those staying in a four-star hotel the figure is now €6 (up from €3); those in three-star accommodation will now be charged €4 (up from €2); travellers in two-star hotels must now pay €3 (up from €2); and those in one-star properties will now be charged €2 (up from €1).

The tax, or “tassa di soggiorno” – collected at the end of a hotel stay – was introduced in 2011 to help pay for repairs and maintenance to the city. Visitors to youth hostels are exempt from the charge; those camping within the city’s boundaries, and those staying in b&b accommodation, are charged the lowest rate.

Having been given barely a month’s notice, tour operators have criticised the increases, which mean they must now absorb the extra cost on packages already sold – or approach those who have already paid for their holiday and ask for more money. One firm estimated that the changes could cost it £120,000.

“The finances of Rome must be in a desperate condition for them to resort to such a move,” said Tom Jenkins, CEO of the European Tour Operators Association. “Five weeks’ notice is an abject admission of failure in financial planning. Recently, Ignazio Marino, Rome’s mayor, rightly insisted that tourists were largely safe and welcome in his city. Their pockets are clearly not safe from his administration.”

Jennifer Tombaugh, president of the Tauck, suggested the move could encourage tour operators like hers to avoid Italy. “We have already begun selling our 2015 journeys with pricing calculated on rates that did not include the proposed tax increase,” she said. “Our business model does not permit us to go back to our clients with increased pricing or surcharges. Should the increase occur in September it will have an immediate and harmful effect on our bottom line. We must now reconsider any planned marketing activities intended to promote Italy and Rome, and instead consider investing those funds in promoting other destinations that will provide a better return on our investment.”

Earlier this year Italy ended the long-standing practice of allowing EU citizens aged over 65 free access to some 225 state-owned museums, galleries and archaeological sites.

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