Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rome Adds a Room Tax for Visitors

Locals are calling the new tax on tourists the "Berlusconi tax", saying (rightly, I think) that it was imposed in response to the President's budget cuts which have shifted much-needed money away from the preservation of Rome's important historic sights. Maybe I'm a Pollyanna, but I have trouble railing against a tax that will (hopefully) help keep the Colosseum or the Pantheon standing longer. We all had a visceral reminder at Pompeii of what happens to the world's greatest treasures don't receive adequate care: they fall to ruin.  Garnering less attention were some smaller collapses in Rome itself at Nero's Palace and the Colosseum. Since I consider these sites to be among the world's, and not just Rome's, greatest treasures I'll be happy to pay a couple of euros more a day for their upkeep when in Rome.

Arch of Constantine (Photo by Eli Brown)
All that being said, it will be pricier to vacation in Rome now (the new tax went into effect Jan 1). Here's how the new tax breaks down; the tax is levied on anyone over the age of 10:
  • O euros for those staying in hostels (glad those folks got a break)
  • 1 euro per person per day for those staying in campgrounds (for a maximum of 5 days)
  • 2 euros per person per day for those staying in B&B's or 1- to 3-star hotels (for a maximum of 10 days)
  • 2 euros per person per day for those staying in short-term rental apartments (for a maximum of 10 days)
  • 3 euros per person per day for those staying in 4- or 5-star hotels (for a maximum of 10 days)
As local hoteliers have noted, the tax will be particularly difficult for families, who could end up paying as much as 80 euros extra (for a family of four with older children) for a week in the Eternal City.

Oddly, some outlets are reporting that the tax has to be paid in cash on the last day of the stay, an inconvenience, to put it mildly.

Several tour operators have stepped forward to announce that they will pay the tax for their already-booked clients. If you're taking a tour and don't hear anything from your company be sure to inquire; you don't want to run out of cash on your last day in Roma!

To read more about the new tax and the response of those in the travel industry, click here.

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