Rome Hotels Furious Over Tax On Tourists
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Unidentified Man: (Italian spoken)
SYLVIA POGGIOLI: There's a carnival atmosphere in Rome at the end of the Christmas holidays, when Romans and tourists flock to Piazza Navona. Reggie Mudd from Nashville, Tennessee is snapping of the crowds and Baroque fountains. He has heard about the new hotel tax, but he's unfazed about the extra cost.
REGGIE MUDD: I mean, coming to Italy is expensive, you know, to begin with. So a little bit more, I mean, are you not going to come because of it? I don't think so.
POGGIOLI: However, Italian tourist Giorgio Severini, visiting with his family of four, is angry.
GIORGIO SEVERINI: (Through Translator) I guess we have to pay, but I don't know whether it's justified. And, in any case, they should have warned us ahead of time.
POGGIOLI: The Rome City Council estimates it will raise more than a $100 million a year. And it promises to use the funds to remove some of the city's major shortcomings and offer better services. That's a tall order.
(SOUNDBITE OF TRAFFIC)
POGGIOLI: Roman traffic is so bad, it even drowns out church bells. And walking in this city is a feat not for the fainthearted. Pedestrians have to elbow their way through thousands of cars parked along narrow streets and watch out not to sprain their ankles on ever-present potholes and broken cobblestones.
(SOUNDBITE OF RINGING BELLS)
POGGIOLI: Francesca Corsetti, concierge at a three-star hotel in central Rome, says her clients' number one complaint is about the poor quality of public transportation.
FRANCESCA CORSETTI: (Through Translator) No one is happy about this tax, that's for sure, both because it's steep and because nobody knows whether services will really improve.
POGGIOLI: Independent tour operator Giorgio Sansa is worried. He says Italy is already losing ground to Spain, Greece and Turkey, which are much cheaper.
GIORGIO SANSA: We are too expensive. We don't realize that we need tourism. We have so much to offer. We have so much to show. We have some of the best cuisine in the world. We have culture, arts, but that's not enough. We also have to watch our prices, because people are looking for the good bargain.
POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.