ETOA, the European Tourism Association, opposes the proposed rise in coach permits during the Jubilee in Rome. Imposing a fivefold increase on the existing €200 daily permit is out of all proportion. It threatens prepaid contracts for travel in 2016 and beyond and is yet another cost that is making Rome an expensive and unpredictable destination. Under these proposals a visitor in a group of 40 people staying in a 4-star hotel would be paying €33 in local taxes a night.
ETOA members are reconsidering how they structure their Italian product, how much time they spend in Rome and where they stay on their itineraries. It should be remembered that they have already had to contend with a doubling of accommodation taxes at very short notice; that they are now being asked to incorporate such an extra cost in less than three months’ time illustrates a total disregard for how a business vital to Rome’s economy functions. It is also counter to the express aim of attracting visitors from around the world in this special year.
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 centre of Rome, a move that had disastrous consequences in the Jubilee of 2000. We argue that instead of seeing coach tourism as part of the problem, it should be seen as part of the solution and as an extension of public transport. If there is a stress on the city of Rome from coach transport, it is not because these ‘monsters of the road’ are ‘invading’ the city, but because a proper plan has never been put in place to accommodate them.
ETOA believes it is still possible to save this Jubilee year from the outcome of 2000 and to work together to deliver a good experience for visitors from around the world. This can be achieved by real consultation and collaboration. That window of opportunity is still open but will soon be gone and with it many jobs and much revenue will be put at risk in one of the few strong performing sectors in the Italian economy.
Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA added, “Coaches are a form of public transport; to move guests from one bus to another serves no purpose. They occupy the road space of two cars with the emissions of four, yet hold up to 57 people. So the behaviour seems vicious and irrational, with no regard to practicality or planning. What will these visitors receive in return for this increase? That this was announced in the same month as the bid for the 2024 Olympic Games shows that the aspirations of Rome and the reality of their organisational capability live in separate worlds.”