The President of the National Association of Italian Communes (ANCI), Sergio Chiamparino, has said that in the future, municipalities across Italy may be able to collect a visitor tax. This came after a meeting yesterday with the minister Roberto Calderoli, who is charged with “simplifying” Italy’s legislation. Mr. Chiamparino stressed that it would come down to a vote in parliament. The legislation would introduce the principle of “targeted taxes” and a tourist tax would be the first of this kind. It would be applied at a federal level, allowing any commune to levy such a tax.
European Tour Operators Association’s (ETOA’s) Executive Director, Tom Jenkins, reacted by highlighting the recent introduction of such a tax in Rome.
“We read that communes would be able to follow the ‘Rome model.’ This is not a paragon of good government,” said Jenkins. “We understand that cities have to raise money: maintaining infrastructure and cultural monuments requires funds. But the haphazard way in which Rome City Council approached, communicated, and introduced their tax is no model to follow. The travel trade needs due notice and consultation: authorities should be aware of the business cycle that brings them visitors. Such taxes cannot be introduced with a few months’ notice.”
One of the purposes of “targeted taxes” is to put the funds to specific use, in this case the tourism infrastructure and cultural offering of the city. But in the case of Rome, the only commitment made so far is that 5% of the monies raised will be put into tourism promotion. ETOA has concerns that the other 95% will simply disappear into the system. Hoteliers, who have wondered whether the litter and graffiti outside their properties will finally disappear, could be left sorely disappointed.
ETOA will be engaging directly with the Italian authorities on this issue, especially in light of the recent experience in Rome. The association is also planning a seminar in Florence in March to look at the challenges and opportunities for city tourism.