Good news: the tourist tax has become a 700 million treasure for cities and municipalities

The tourist tax is a real Italian treasure. In fact, in 2023, for the first time, the 700 million mark was exceeded (702 to be precise) with a significant growth of 10%. Growth linked to the great success of tourism throughout the peninsula and to the fact that the number of municipalities that ask for “gabelle” from those who spend the night away from home is also increasing.

In fact, there are 1,013 Municipalities that collected taxes from tourists in 2023, with constant and unstoppable growth. According to a survey by the national observatory on the tourist tax, this is a record figure justified not only by the increase in the number of municipalities that now join the initiative, but also due to the increase in the amounts requested from tourists. To date, the tourist tax can reach up to 5 euros with the exception of cities such as Rome and Venice and for provincial capitals with a high tourist presence, where the maximum amount is set at 10 euros. If in 2011, with the reintroduction of the tax, only 11 municipalities joined the initiative, then in 2017 and 2018 the number went from 746 to 901 up to the current 1,013. Among the cities benefited by art and culture there is undoubtedly Rome which with the proceeds of the first half of 2023 alone reached 61 million euros. Following, again in the same period, Milan with 28.9 million euros, Florence 24.7 million euros, Venice 15.1, Naples 7.4, Bologna 5.8, Turin 4.7, Verona 2.4 and Matera which is close to 2 million (source: Osservatorio). There are many cities in which during 2024 a tax of 10 euros per person will be paid. In fact, in addition to Rome, in cities such as Rimini, Florence, Venice and Pisa, where the tourist influx exceeds that of residents by 20 times, it was allowed to raise the maximum ceiling of the tourist tax to 10 euros. This data emerges from the geographical mapping created by the Observatory in which central Italy wins the largest share with 37 percent of the tax collections – equal to 258 million euros – followed by the north-east with 18 percent one hundred (126 million euros) and finally from the south with 11 percent (79 million euros) and the islands with 6 percent (43 million euros).

It is important to clarify that the tourist tax is thus incorrectly defined. It is, however, a tax, and therefore a tax paid by taxpayers who stay in accommodation facilities in the Municipalities that established the tax, which began as a tax way back in 1910 and was applied at the time only in seaside and spa resorts.

Subsequently, with the Royal Decree of 1938, the tax became a tax which remained active until 1988, when it was decided to abolish it to reduce tourist costs and increase tourist presences in Italy also in view of the 1990 World Cup. However, the abolition of the tax did not lead to the desired results, in fact the data show that if in 1988 there were 188,371 tourist presences, then in 1989 there were 187,301 (ISTAT data source). The tourist tax was reintroduced only in 2011, when following municipal fiscal federalism, with law no. 42/2009 aimed at giving greater autonomy to local authorities. The purpose of the tourist tax is precisely to collect sums of money necessary to increase tourism investments without impacting the taxation of residents. National law establishes only a few general principles related to the destination of the proceeds reserved for tourism investments and the payment thresholds to be applied to tourists. For this reason, there is a high degree of local customization of the tax parameters and therefore it is the municipality that decides the rates, exemptions and deadlines of the tourist tax. For this reason, there is a strong disparity in the tariffs applied by municipalities, but the growing data shows that for some Italian cities the collection of the tax is a real treasure. So, how is the money collected from tourist taxes destined?