ETOA Critical of Rome Council's Tourist Tax Hike Proposal
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A recent proposal to increase the tourist tax on coach tours through Rome in 2016 by an eye-popping 500 percent has been met with resistance from the European Tourism Association (ETOA).
The Daily Mail reported the Italian capital's council has proposed a daily permit increase on coaches from €200 ($224) to €1,000 ($1,118) in an effort to reduce congestion near the destination's most popular tourist attractions, including the Colosseum and the Vatican.
With Pope Francis declaring 2016 a Jubilee year, the city is anticipating a surge of foreign visitors.
Nonetheless, the ETOA has called the council's proposal "out of proportion," noting that a single visitor among a group of 40 people staying in a four-star hotel would have to pay €33 ($37) per night in local taxes based on the proposed changes.
"[It] is yet another cost that is making Rome an expensive and unpredictable destination," the organization said in a statement to the Daily Mail.
The ETOA said that coach tourism should be embraced as a potential solution to the problem, with ETOA CEO Tom Jenkins stressing that coaches are a form of public transportation with environmental benefits.
"They occupy the road space of two cars with the emissions of four, yet hold up to 57 people," he told the Daily Mail.
The group also pointed to past missteps by city officials.
"The assessor has said that this increase is designed to act as a deterrent and force groups to travel on existing public transport to the various sites within the center of Rome, a move that had disastrous consequences in the Jubilee of 2000," the ETOA stated, referring to the previous Jubilee's notorious traffic difficulties.
With ETOA member tour operators threatening to scrap their visits to Rome and the potential for jobs and tourism spending to be lost, the organization is calling on the council to ditch the proposal and instead engage with the coach companies in hopes of finding a middle ground with fewer and less severe consequences.
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