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“Pay-per-view” tourist sights

Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 12 Luglio 2002

Several times recently we have heard about taxes being levied on tourists for them to access natural sights or cultural experiences. In an editorial a few weeks ago, I reflected on several recent instances in which tourism was being exploited for profit; I mentioned, for example, that the Florence municipal government had raised the cost of bus parking to 150 euros. Since then, there has been a relentless stream of news on new taxes on the use of public goods. As was written by Corriere della Sera on Saturday 6 July, you pay 3 euros to visit the Basilica di Santa Croce, 2 for the Pisa cathedral, 6 to access five monuments and churches in Ravenna, 1 euro to land on the Tremiti Islands, 7 to anchor in the Maddalena archipelago. The newspaper added: “The debate on pay-per-view culture, or culture on demand, is open”. This list of pay areas is certainly not exhaustive, indeed we may add, for example, the Orosei beach (8 euros), the Eolie Islands in the near future, and even foreign localities, which are presently equipping themselves to follow suit. In the Baleari Islands a polemic is under way between hotel owners and the local government, which has deliberated to impose a tax on tourists. Some time ago, there used to be a so-called tourist tax in Italy, which was eventually abolished after heated discussions on its negative repercussions on modern tourism. It seems, however, that appetite has been growing disproportionately in recent times, and every small centre, locality, district or cultural institution is somehow seeking to raise resources by taxing visitors. In the above-mentioned article by Dario Fertilio in Corriere della Sera, jurist Guido Rossi said: “The idea of a tax on breathing, enjoying a painting or a walk in the countryside, is in itself a betrayal of the idea of equality of our Constitution”. It is truly dangerous to transform our country into an amusement part, turning it into an economic good for consumption, without its own independent life arising from a “normal” relationship with residents and visitors.

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