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New Year, New Taxes

07 January, 2011 10:43  Erin Erin

Rome colisée © catherine PERARNAUD - FotoliaRome Hotel Tax

Rome has hosted visitors for centuries and no matter the cost, one can expect it will continue to be a favorite of tourists for centuries to come. That doesn't mean a new tax on the city's visitors is appreciated. Along with people gathering around the Piazza del Popolo to ring in 2011, a new tax on tourism arrived as well.

What it is?

From January 1st, all visitors are expected to pay a per-person (over the age of ten), per-night tax on the first ten nights of their stay in Rome.

Who does it affect?

The city draws over 30 million visitors every year to stay in its approximately 3,800 hotels, guest houses and bed-and-breakfast options. Many Italians are unhappy with the charges as the fee applies to all non-residents, including Italians from other parts of the country.

If a visitor is not staying in a local hotel, note that the city's museums and other tourist attractions are also charging a 1 euro fee.

How much is it?

For hotels between one and three stars, guests need to contribute an additional 2 euro per night.
For 4 and 5 star hotels there will be an additional 3 euro per night required.
Bed & Breakfast accommodation and farm inns will be charged 2 euro for a maximum of ten days.
Campsites inside the city boundaries will be charged 1 euro for a maximum of five days.
Youth hostels will be exempt from the charge.

For example, a three-night weekend stay in a three-star hotel for a couple would mean they would pay an additional 12 euro.

The fee is also asked of anyone who has booked or paid for the trip through a travel agency or tour operator and therefore pays by presenting a voucher at the reception desk. This fee will be added on to the final bill and paid at the end of a visitors's stay and must be paid in cash, which has been especially grating to critics.

What is it for?

The estimated 80 million euro the fee will raise per year will be used to fund the city's many urban services. It also appears to be a reaction to the very unpopular funding cuts by Silvio Berlusconi, the current Prime Minister of Italy. Budget cuts are estimated to be up to 24 billion euro over the next two years, including significant cuts to the education system. This has caused much public outcry, including student riots.


This is actually not the first time this tax has been enacted. About 20 years ago, Rome instated a very similar tax on visitors. The tax was so unpopular, it was eventually repealed. Time will tell how this new tax is received.

MaldivesMaldives © Papirazzi - Fotolia

The Maldives is also engaging in a new tax for the new year. The brand new Tourism Goods and Services Tax was enacted on January 1st, 2011 and will charge an additional 3.5% on many of the services supplied by the country's travel industry.

    These services include:
  • Room rates at resorts
  • Guest houses
  • Tourist boat hires
  • Food and drink service
  • Diving schools
  • Domestic transportation

The Finance Minister of Maldives, Mahmood Razee, has explained that the fees are part of a government strategy to supply direct national funding from the nation's industries. In the past, resort owners were not required to pay profit or income tax. "It will gradually be extended to other sectors... to reduce relying on indirect taxes, especially import duties that hurt the poor" Razee said.

Other officials are nervous about how these fees are to be implemented. As a gorgeous island nation, Maldives relies on tourism to its lovely shores. Tourism accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives's foreign exchange receipts.

If the system works effectively, it could be quite profitable. Official statistics for 2010 from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture show that year-on-year visitor growth is at 21.8 for the first ten months of the year. If the new taxes do not greatly interfere with growth, Maldives may be able to create greater infrastructure for both tourists and residents.

US Tourist Tax

The United States also recently implemented a new tourist tax. On September 8th, 2010 the price of admission the US went up by $14. This tourist tax is officially labeled as a "operational and travel promotion" fee and intends to actually increase tourism to the States.

The fee affects citizens of 36 countries, most of which are European. It will charge all travelers entering the US under the Visa Waiver Program.

    These include:
  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brunei
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom

Those affected will pay by filling out an online form prior to entering the US. The fee will also need to be paid online on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

Congestion Charge

These taxes are not targeting tourists specifically but will have to be considered for expats setting up in those cities.

More and more places are implementing creative methods to deal with over congestion in their cities. This includes fees that are meant to both
1) reduce the amount of traffic in congested areas
2) and provide revenue for road infrastructure financing, etc.

LondonBig Ben in London at night against blue sky. London traffic © photogl - Fotolia

London has a difficult situation in the amount of traffic that clogs its downtown streets. To combat this issue, the city has issued a congestion charge.

Recent changes occurred on January 4th, 2011.

  1. The Western Extension was removed from the zone
  2. The fee was increased from 8 to 10 pounds
  3. An automated payment system was implemented

This fee concerns motorists traveling within the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ). It is the largest system within the UK, and one of the largest in the world.

A payment of 10 pounds is required each day for every vehicle traveling within the zone between 7:00 and 18:00 Monday through Friday. Most motorists pay by auto payment. Traveler's can do this by first registering (up to 5 vehicles). This allows the car to be driven within the zone and the fee automatically deducted from the registered user's credit/debit account once a month. It saves time, and offers a reduced daily charge of 9 pounds.

If found in non-payment, the fine is between 60 and 180 pounds.

To find out more about the system, go to the official site for Congestion Charging.


"Ecopass" is Milan's solution to its issues of car traffic. In addition to the usual goals of congestion charges, the ordinance seeks to reduce air pollution.

Traveler's through the area, known as ZTL, must pay a fee for entering the area. The amount of the charge depends on the vehicle's engine emissions standard and fees vary from 2 to 10 euros on weekdays from 7:30 to 19:30. The fee can be paid before entering the ZTL or up to midnight the next day after entering. Payment of the fee can be made via internet, or by telephone. It is also possible to purchase daily and multiple-day passes. Enforcement is carried out by digital cameras located at 43 electronic gates.

Autos that are compliant with the Euro3 and Euro4 standards or higher, or vehicles that use alternative fuels, are exempt. Fines for non-payment vary between 70 to 275 euro.



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         EasyExpat on

Colosseum restoration works [Reply]

On Friday were inaugurated the Colosseum restoration works.

  Franco     24 Jan 2011, 20:14


Franco> BBC news says: Restoration work, which will cost some 25m euros (£21m; $34m), is expected to begin at the end of the year and will take two and a half years to complete.
(either you did not know... or maybe you just wanted to put your link?)

  Cyril     24 Jan 2011, 20:24