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Cracking Down On Substandard Accommodation

Rome beatification: police in action for protection of pilgrims and honest hoteliers

Mario Masciullo, eTN  Apr 26, 2011

ITALY (eTN) - Hotel accommodations in Rome, Italy, have been under the lens of the police administration for over a month. The goal of the administration is to protect pilgrims arriving for the beatification of Pope John Paul II and the hotel operators in the field. The officers are implementing a systematic plan of audits focused in the areas most affected by the presence of accommodation, especially low-cost accommodation. The audits also travel through the Web from whose network the agents of the police administration began screening facilities deemed "suspicious."

The facilities inspected so far number more than 60, including predominantly bed & breakfasts, hostels, and guesthouses, particularly around the Termini railway station and those close to the Vatican City district.

As many as 22 operative licenses have been suspended by order of the Questore (the Chief of Police of Rome city) Mr. Tagliente spanning periods that range from 5 to 30 days, with an obligation to regulate activities in accordance with current standards.

Differentiated measures have been taken for the substandard hotels due to the different types of irregularities found by the police administration.

In the first case, it was established that there was an abusive expansion of the intended location in order to accommodate more tourists. Eight beds were found in a 15-square-meter room in one case, and the health of the location was in contrast with the standard for hygenic conditions. The illegal enlargement of the number of beds offered for sale via the Internet was controlled by a company holding a legal structure which lead to up to 8 illegal additional micro structures also located within the same property.

In a second case, a decision was made to completely stop all activity, due to the absence of licensing altogether.

The control of the police administration has been extended to room rates as well, which in some cases were deemed unjustified. The range of irregularities included alleged violations, by some operators, in carrying out notification to the police Provincial Public Security, as provided by the Consolidated Laws of Public Safety, and on the generality of housing. The challenged sanctions amount to over 300,000 euros.

Administrative controls represent another menace to the safety device planned by the police for the beatification. This has already seen the signing of an order by the General Questore by which scenarios are photographed, with the first steps refering to the areas where the influx of pilgrims, as well as domestic and foreign authorities, will attend for the three days of religious celebration.

The results of the police action was presented to the industry representatives at a meeting organized by Federalberghi (the hotel federation) at Hotel Mediterraneo in Rome. The chief of police reiterated the commitment of the police department to work for the protection and safety of foreigners and Italians alike staying in Rome hotels with the aim of protecting also the economic interest of the hotel operators. A final message was given by the chief of police, who proposed to the hotel managers to work as a team by sharing all possible information in order to maximize the police knowledge of any ongoing malpractice.

SHOWN IN PICTURE (R to L): Director of Mediterraneo Hotel Mr. Garbo; Questore Mr. F. Tagliente; President of Federalberghi Mr. U.Martuscellli; Mr. M.Improta; Dr. G. Monastra, Press/PR Rome Police Dept.

Rome beatification: police in action for protection of pilgrims and honest hoteliers
Photo by Mario Masciullo

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