Tourist tax for Venice?
The Vice-Mayor of Venice, Sandro Simionato, this week advocated the rapid introduction of a tax on tourists to Venice. The tourist tax, which is likely to be known as the ‘Venice ticket’, would initially be added to hotel bills. “The ticket will arrive as soon as possible and will bring the city €24 million a year,” explained Simionato in the newspaper La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre on 20 March 2011 (Ticket, è muro contro muro). ‘As soon as possible’ is likely to mean next summer.
At the national assembly of the Italian hotel federation Federalberghi on 19 March 2011, hotel owners voiced their opposition to new tourist taxes, such as the Venice ticket. “From Eolie to Belluno we are all against the ticket and there are no cracks,” declared Vittorio Bonacini, the President of the Venice Hoteliers Association (AVA).
Rome introduced tourist taxes on 1 January 2011. Visitors to the city now pay tourist taxes when staying in various types of accommodation; €3 per night for a four or five star hotel, €2 per night for up to 3 star hotels and even €1 per night for a campsite. In addition, non-residents of Rome now pay a supplementary €1 for museum entry in Rome. These taxes apply to Italians as well as foreign tourists and business visitors, although children are exempt.
Many cities in Italy and elsewhere are considering similar taxes on tourists, although the details of the planned Venice ticket are currently unclear.
Tourist taxes are undemocratic because a flat rate discriminates against poorer visitors. Moreover, the initial amounts can be increased once the principle of tourist taxes is established. John Kay, a British economist, advised that Venice should charge tourists €50 (US$70.68) for admission to the city. As explained in the forthcoming book ‘Venice in Environmental Peril? Myth and Reality’ by Dominic Standish (UPA, September 2011), tourist taxes stigmatise tourists as a problem for cities like Venice. The book examines how revenue for the city can be boosted by improving tourism without the need for tourist taxes.
Other cities considering tourist taxes should reject them and explore different ways of generating funds from tourism.