Open Jaw: 'Will this tax be spent for real tourist needs?'
Where readers write back
Saturday 03 September 2011
Venice tourist tax of up to €5 per person
These taxes never work. They are difficult to collect from smaller hotels. Competitive cities will always use the chance to contact operators, conference organisers and clients direct to say "Come to us instead and avoid these taxes." London, and many other cities, use more subtle ways to tax tourists and that is to have absurdly high one-way fares on public transport if you pay for just one journey in cash. No Londoner pays £4 for a short tube ride, but millions of outsiders do before they discover unlimited Travelcards or pay-as-you-go Oyster cards.
Yet another thinly veiled attempt to fleece the unwary tourist. Anyone foolish enough to pay a "luxury tax" for visiting Delhi or New York City deserves what they get.
A couple of years ago we arrived in Venice in the snow. We had brought rubber boots, carried for a month through Rome and Milan, and finally needed to walk from the station in Venice to the Lido vaporetto. Will the city clear snow better as a result of this levy? Will there be better public facilities? Doubtful. Can this tax possibly be spent for real tourist needs? Or to improve services during aqua alta (high tide)? We hope so.
Brits plan Olympic escape
I remember what happened in Sydney in 2000: lots of disappointed people left with over-priced, empty apartments.
Could we devise an Olympics event along the lines of "Allcomers' UK Getaway"? Gold medal awarded to the UK contestant getting the furthest distance from Dover for a gross spend of under a fiver.
Mandatory travel insurance in Cuba
I had no hassle about travel insurance when I went to Havana last year. I hadn't bought any, and nobody asked about it. They seemed to be keener than ever to welcome foreign tourists.
The younger the cognac, the more it stays in one's head. For everyday drinking, I would not recommend anything less than an extra aged VSOP as a digestif. Very old cognac is like central heating: you will soon find that it has invaded the corners and extremities of one's body before you can say "Wow, what was that?"
P F Bulmer
Sea kayaking in Northern Ireland
I have lived near the Causeway Coast all my life and thought I had seen it from every angle and experienced every form of weather. However, after reading that story I'm going to have to take a kayak trip and experience this for myself.
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