Might Italian Cities Tax the Tourists?

If increasing plane tickets and high taxi prices weren’t enough, tourists may soon be faced with a new expense: a tourist tax. Francesco Rutelli, Italian deputy prime minister and minister of tourism, announced September 30th that Italian towns would now be able to exact such a tax if they should so choose, and that “city authorities in Rome, Florence and Venice are thinking about introducing this tax while others, like Naples, are not.”

The major Italian tourist cities deal with a very large volume of visitors, particularly tourists who arrive in large tour groups for short trips and then leave the city to dine and sleep elsewhere, taking the real revenue to smaller towns. This tax is intended to help alleviate the burden on the cities’ infrastructure and services that this type of tourism demands. Venice, for example, already has a similar tax, which is only levied on tourists who make temporary stops in the city on tour buses, and then leave at night.

The new law is a loose one: it is not yet decided how this tax will be collected, but it may be incorporated into the fees charged by bus companies that take tourists into major cities on daytrips. Also, the 2007 budget allows each city to decide to exempt the tax from certain establishments, such as youth hostels, or to only apply it at certain times of the year. Revenue from this tax would then be spent on the maintenance of infrastructure and tourist services. — Cailin Birch