As a part of the austerity measures in Europe, the Italian government has cut funding to Italian cities. This cut has led the city of Rome to institute a new hotel tax of €3 per person per night at four and five star hotels, €2 for lower categories with children exempt from the new tax. In addition to the hotel tax, there will be a €1 tax per person at Rome museums and tourist attractions. This tax applies to everyone who is not a Rome resident, including Italian tourists, business travelers, and international visitors. In all, it’s expected to generate €200,000 a day, or €80 million a year; funds will be used to improve the city’s cultural heritage and its infrastructure.
While people are concerned it will affect tourism, I expect that it won’t. Plenty of popular cities already collect a hotel room occupancy tax, which is basically what Rome is doing, without any ill effects. For example, New York City assesses a 5.875% room tax (as of Jan 1, 2011), other places have much higher (I’ve seen 10%). Ultimately, if you want to see the Colosseum, you’ll see it even though they’re charging an extra euro.