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Sometimes they come back

Di Antonio Caneva, 10 Novembre 2016

Once upon a time, in order to pay tourist taxes, hotels had to fill out a form in triple carbon copy, reporting the occupancy information.
Then, thanks to the “far-sightedness” of our rulers, this iniquitous tax was abolished with general exultation. But, as I say in the title, sometimes they come back, or rather they always come back when there is money to squeeze out. As a matter of fact, in the last few years the tax was reintroduced in nearly all Italian municipalities, hesitantly at first, then with increasing determination.
Other countries, too, did not pass up the opportunity, with the result of some rather ludicrous situations. In Berlin, for example, a 5% tax has been introduced on the overnight stay price: quite a high amount which I think is unequalled anywhere else. But – and there is a but – this tax is only applied to those who go to Berlin as tourists, while business travellers are exempted. So it happens that, at the time of booking, you have to tick a box in a form, with the result that a friend of mine who went for tourism ticked the business box and did not pay, while I, unknowing, left the box unticked and paid the tax, even if I was in Berlin for the ITB.
When I was young, I worked in a beautiful hotel in St Moritz overlooking the lake and facing the mountains, and a few days ago, feeling nostalgic, I visited their website. The hotel was completely renovated in 2007, with remarkable results. Then I did a booking simulation, from 5 to 12 February, and the applicable rates were quite substantial, even though they were justified by the hotel’s quality level. The lowest rate was CHF 2,400 per night (EUR …..) while the suite was priced CHF 7,100 (EUR ……)
The description of services – highly refined – specified that the price also included the breakfast buffet, use of the minibar, the butler service, and the Bentley limousine service in St Moritz.
Nice! Except that, at the end, it specified that the tourism tax of CHF 5 a night per person was not included. Which means that, if you spend CHF 16,800 for week’s stay (without considering ancillary costs), or CHF 49,700, you will find yourself being charged CHF 70 for the tourism tax. Does it make sense? It is true that the hotel will have to bear this expense for its guests, but it is also true that the guests are paying a significant amount to the hotel: it seems to me a case of sterile accounting.
When travelling, you come across some paradoxical situations due to the tourism tax, which, in my opinion, simply has no reason to exist.

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