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Venice tourist tax goes into effect

Meant to 'maintain the beauty' of the city

24 August, 17:35
Venice tourist tax goes into effect (ANSA) - Venice, August 24 - A hospitality tax that will levy a toll on overnight visitors to Venice went into effect Wednesday.

Revenue from the tax, which the city says "contributes to maintaining the beauty of Venice", is intended to go towards restoration and upkeep of the lagoon city, which experts categorically agree is suffering under the weight of 20 million tourists a year.

The city estimates that the measure will earn eight million euros in revenue in 2011, and 23 million in the following two years.

Yet critics point out that the tax does not account for the estimated 70%-80% of Venice visitors who come for the day but stay elsewhere.

"We are not totally against a tourist tax," said Vittorio Bonacini, head of the local hoteliers association, which is threatening legal action.

"We don't want to act as the government's tax collectors," he added.

Venice City Council argues that the taxation method is an effective way of enlisting visitors to pay their way in a city where daily tourists can outnumber residents nearly three to one.

"If the hotel asks the tourist to help preserve the city, then the tourists will not be upset," said Sandro Simionato, Deputy Mayor of Venice.

The fee covers one room per night, for up to five nights, and it is based on the rating of the lodging.

Campgrounds outside the city center, for example, will charge an additional three cents, while five-star hotels in the city center will charge five euros above the normal cost of a room.

Hostels are excluded from the tax, and some establishments have promised to absorb the fee for guests.

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