European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) has sent an open letter to the Rome authorities asking them to reconsider a planned hotel tax to be introduced on January 1, 2011. The letter, sent by ETOA’s executive director Tom Jenkins, sums up the strong concerns of ETOA operator and hotel members. It reads:
“I am writing to you as the European Tour Operators Association to note that Rome City Council is still planning to impose a visitor tax commencing on January 1, 2011. Even at this late stage, the tariffs are still provisional, and the method of collection has yet to be confirmed. It still seems, but there is no certainty, that the tax will be imposed irrespective of when a client books or how far in advance they paid.
“It is an involuntary imposition of a fee on a consumer: they cannot cancel without forfeiting their prepayment, and they cannot stay without paying this new charge.
“Not only are clients trapped. As their customers pay in full and in advance, operators cannot return to their clients and levy this tax. Nor are their margins sufficient to carry this loss. The only option is for hotels to charge clients individually upon departure.
“Such taxes are always a bad move. The impulse to travel is fragile, even when dealing with the most famous destination. It takes a very particular form of city to place a price on its attractiveness. But what is lamentable is the notice period. The travel industry has a planning cycle of 18 months. If you are taxing us in a way that is bearable, this length of time has to be given.”
ETOA has already been part of a concerted campaign opposing a similar move in the city of Cologne, which came into force as a “culture tax” on the October 1. Some accommodation suppliers have refused to levy the tax and are challenging the legality of the move. ETOA is currently monitoring other cities, which are believed to be considering similar moves. We would welcome feedback from members on this issue. Please contact us at [email protected] .