Moscow is reportedly planning to follow Paris and Rome’s example and tax its tourists €1-3 per day.
The money will be used to improve the city’s tourist facilities and renovate popular attractions.
The measure, however, will be introduced only if the inflow of visitors to the capital shows a steady increase, a source from Moscow’s tourism committee told the Izvestia newspaper. The authorities hope that after the new tourism program is implemented, the number of foreign guests will reach 6 million people by 2016.
The number of tourists visiting Moscow is growing only slightly. Whereas in 2009 the Russian capital welcomed 3.7 million visitors, in 2010 there were around four million. Rome, meanwhile, had over 26 million visitors in 2010, breaking world tourism records.
The idea has already sparked widespread criticism. Tourism specialists say that even if the inflow of tourists is growing, it is too early for Moscow to introduce such taxes.
“We conducted a poll, interviewing 3,000 foreigners at Moscow airports,” Valeria Shpileva, from the WOW Moscow project, told RT. “The results were rather upsetting as 80 per cent said they were not going to come back to Moscow. They gave a variety of reasons.”
The same “visitor’s tax” was earlier considered in St. Petersburg. Back in December 2010, its governor, Valentina Matvienko, suggested introducing a special “tourist’s fee,” adding that “$1 per day is no money.”