Rome doubles hotel tax

Tour operators unhappy with controversial increases

Hotel tax in Rome has doubled from 1 September following measures approved by city authorities at the end of July.

The price hike means that tourists staying at one- and two-star hotels now pay €3 per person per night on top of their room rate (an increase from €2); guests in three-star accommodation pay €4 (up from €2); those staying in a four-star hotel pay €6 (up from €3); and people staying at five-star hotels pay €7 (up from €3).

The increased tassa di soggiorno means that a family of four staying at a four-star hotel in Rome for four nights now pay €96 compared to the €48 charged until 31 August, according to the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA).

ETOA chief Tom Jenkins has blasted the “sudden increase”, saying: “Tourism relies on planning, on predictable charges being assembled and presented to the visitor. The finances of Rome must be in a desperate condition for them to resort to such a move.”

Alluding to recent comments by Rome mayor Ignazio Marino that Rome is safe for tourists, Jenkins said that tourists' “pockets are clearly not safe from his administration.”

Local operators say the move is regrettable, embarrassing, and will damage Rome's reputation for tourism. Andrea Costanzo, the president of regional tourism business association Fiavet Lazio, says “For now we are covering the tax ourselves for bookings made a year ago, to avoid making a brutta figura and disputes with foreign tour operators.” Costanzo also fears the tax will lead to large tour groups abandoning Rome in favour of hotels in nearby Tivoli, Pomezia and Fiuggi.

Giuseppe Roscioli, the president of Italian hotel and tourism association Federalberghi, said that “the reactions from clients have been very negative: we have become the most expensive city in Europe, just think that in Paris the tax is €1.50, in London there is no tax.”

Foreign travel agencies are complaining that their business will be affected too as they have already begun selling 2015 journeys with pricing calculated on rates before the tax increase came into effect.

The hotel tax is collected at the end of a stay and was introduced in 2011 to help pay for maintenance of the city's monuments.