Visitors to Rome may soon have to rethink their budget, if plans to increase hotel tourist tax go ahead.
Under the proposals, tourists could see up to €10 a night added to their bill, Italian media reported on Thursday.
The planned changes come just four months after city hall hiked the accommodation tax to between €3 and €7 a night depending on the type of hotel, while those pitching a tent have had to pay €2 for the privilege since September 1st.
The new €10 rate would apply to five-star hotels in the Italian capital, for a maximum of ten consecutive nights, a city hall spokesman told The Local on Friday. The measure needs to be discussed and voted on before it can implemented, while tourist tax rates for lower-grade hotels will stay the same.
The move will nonetheless hit the broader tourism industry, with hotelier Steve Brenner telling The Local it’s a “very short-sighted” plan from an “out of touch” government.
“I had ten people come in the other day, it was €157 in tourist tax for their stay, I was embarrassed,” he said.
As the owner of The Beehive Hotel in central Rome, Brenner said he had seen little sign that the nightly tax was being used to improve the city for either tourists or residents.
“We’re not getting anything out of this money; we’re trying to get rid of the old infection,” he said.
Rome is currently reeling from revelations of widespread corruption at city hall, allegedly led by a one-eyed former terrorist whose mafia group for years siphoned off vital funds for services.
READ MORE: Renzi toughens law after Rome corruption scandal
Mayor Ignazio Marino, a former surgeon, recently said that although Rome was “sick”, the Italian capital would return to full health.
“If we’re paying for past mistakes, it should be proportionate,” said Brenner, arguing that charging someone €3.50 extra for a dormitory bed was already too much.
While few would argue that Rome will be abandoned by tourists entirely - its ancient heritage having endless appeal - there are fears that increasing charges for visitors will change tourists’ perception of the Eternal City.
“Over time the opinion of what it costs to come to Rome will change,” Brenner added. “By the time you see the effect of that change in sentiment, it’s two or three years too late.”