With the new year come new taxes — this time, for tourists visiting Rome, Italy.
The "tourist tax," which went into effect Jan. 1, applies to any nonresidents of Rome who will be participating in tourist-like activities — including staying at a hotel or campsite. So far, it's €3 per person, per night for those staying at 3- and 4-star hotels, and €2 for those at lesser-starred accommodations. The hotel tax is applied to the first 10 nights only. Campers have to pay €1 per person, per night for the first 5 nights. Tourists will also be charged €1 extra for entrance to museums. (Yes, apartments and B&Bs also count).
No word yet on if tourists also will be charged extra at souvenir shops or mediocre faux-Italian restaurants. (Kidding).
While the tax itself is less than you would pay for, say, a couple of bottles of water, what'll probably be more annoying for visitors is how it's implemented. (Hey, it's Italy!) The tax can only be paid in cash, and the hotel fee is settled at the end of the stay. So make sure you don't give away ALL of those extra coins before you check out.
The upside: The some €80 million that Rome expects to reap from the tax annually will go to Rome's cultural heritage and infrastructure. And as I've written before, Rome's ruins are crumbling — so if you want to keep the Eternal City "eternal" enough for your kids to experience it, adding a little to the coffers ain't all bad.