Bedding Down in Rome

This time it is Rome. They have decided to impose an accommodation tax on all guests staying in hotels in the city from the first day of 2011.

How do you get around paying this tax? By either being under two years old or by staying at a youth hostel. And unlike lots of accommodation around the world, it’s not a room tax but a guest tax. Two of you in a room will pay twice as much as one person so there is no easy way to avoid it other than by staying outside Rome.

It will hit the more upmarket hotels the most as it is graded by the star rating of your hotel. If you stay in a 4 or 5 star hotel expect to pay €3 euros per night. Stay in a star rating below that and it will be €2 per night. But, there’s good news. If you stay more than 10 nights you will only have to pay for the 10. All of the other nights above ten will be free. Some good news that is! Ten days for a couple in a 4 star hotel will amount to an additional €60 on your bill, that’s over £50.

You will pay this tax directly to the hotel when you check out. But they will be able to improve their cash flow by hanging on to their money until July before they have to pass it to the authorities.
The great feature of this tax, according to ETOA, (European Tour Operators Association) is that no-one seems to know whether VAT should be levied on top of this tax. And it is a tax. It doesn’t seem to be a levy to help restore tourist sites or improve what the traveller will find in Rome. ETOA says that only 5% of the revenue will be spent on “generic tourist services.” Where does the other 95% go? Into the general taxation coffers so that politicians can use it for their pet projects could be one answer.

Its yet another case of governments – local, regional and national – realising that just as the car driver or the householder has been scalped in the past, the tourist is another seemingly endless source of revenue. Unless of course, we take umbrage and stay away from Rome!