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NAPLES, Italy — Italy has nixed the idea of letting cities impose a tourist tax next year.

Several months ago, as Italy’s parliament tinkered with a draft of the 2007 budget, lawmakers considered a proposal to let cities tax tourists checking into hotels and hostels to help pay for maintaining monuments and landmarks.

Monday, the government ditched the proposal, much to the delight of the tourism industry, which feared the tax might compel tourists to vacation in other European countries instead, according to an Italian news report.

The plan would have allowed cities to levy as much as 5 euros per person per night, the equivalent of about $6.48.

Imposition of the tax would not have been uniform. Venice officials had indicated they would impose the full amount on visitors. Leaders of other cities, such as Rome, said the tax would have hinged on a facility’s rating: the more stars, the higher the tax, up to 5 euros per night.

The government’s move was a “wise decision,” Francesco Rutelli, Italy’s culture and tourism minister, was quoted as saying, according to the ANSA Italian news wire service.

“Italy needs to be competitive in the tourism sector and this charge would not have helped,” Rutelli said.

The tax might not have been such a bad idea if local governments used it as intended, said Petty Officer 1st Class Grant Knight, a sailor stationed in Naples who travels every chance he gets.

“I am surprised, and a little disappointed, that Italy is not going to implement this tax,” said Knight, 33, who has been in Italy since May.

“People who have money to travel and vacation can definitely afford to pay a 5 euro tax,” said Knight, a history buff.

“With all the historical and cultural sites in this country, and the reputation of being corrupt politically, it seemed like a good way to directly funnel money into the preservation of a significant amount of Western civilization’s cultural heritage.”

ANSA quoted Rutelli as saying the government would help cities and towns find other ways to pay for the upkeep of historical sites.


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