Rome, Florence and now Venice
UPDATE: 23 June 2011. the tax in Venice has been delayed until at least 23rd August after protests from hoteliers.
Like London buses, when one comes along, it is accompanied by another. So Venice, on Wednesday this week, decided to introduce an accommodation tax just like Florence. To make life difficult it is also introducing it from July 1st giving just 20 days from today for hoteliers and others to change their systems, contact those had already booked and forewarn travel agents and passengers around the world.
Like Florence this is going to be €1 tax per person per night per star rating according to ETOA who have publicised the new tax. So a couple spending 3 nights at a four star hotel will pay an extra €24. ETOA also says that the rate applies only to the first 5 nights. After that, unlike the proposed Florence tax, there will be nothing extra to pay. They also say that there will be a reduced tax to pay in the low season, – November to February.
What else do we know? Not much other than hoteliers are opposed to the tax and the Italian minister for tourism, Vittoria Brambilla, says that Venice must await approval from Rome. Needless to say Venice says this isn’t the case and that the tax can go ahead.
The tax applies not just to what we know as islands known as Venice but to the commune as a whole so hotels in Mestre, a popular place to stay to avoid some of the high accommodation rates in the height of summer, will also be included but a lower tax might apply.
So the commune hasn’t decided the whole issue yet. It has one meeting and can’t tell us whether there will be a lower tax at other times or elsewhere. ETOA uses words like “anticipated” and “might.” Until we really know what the effect is, it is likely just to cause confusion.
The effect will be to raise €20-24 million per year. Will this be used as general taxation or improving the appeal to the visitor?
The tax will probably deter few people. Venice, being unique, will continue to attract visitors but what it may do is deter people from making annual visits or coming every couple of years. Instead they will treat it as a once-in-a lifetime experience and that would be a great shame. Yes, Venice is an astonishingly expensive place to preserve, given the effects of time, the sea and, yes, tourists. But without tourists, Venice will suffer even more. Someone in the commune needs to do their sums to make sure the tax raised isn’t equalled by the loss in revenue from fewer visitors.