Monday, 5 December 2011

Objective Proficiency p 66. Rome Hotels Furious Over Tax On Tourists. Extra Listening

Visitors to Rome now have to pay an extra tax to stay at hotels in the Italian capital. Critics say the new tax, of up to $4 per night depending on the class of hotel, will dissuade tourists from coming to Rome. Local officials say the tax will boost city funds by more than $100 million per year.

Listen to the story and fill in the gaps

New Tourist Tax in Rome
Rome has long been a prime destination for tourists, from backpackers to religious pilgrims. Recently, city officials decreed that all hotels, even campsites, must impose a new tax on travelers
There's a carnival atmosphere at the end of the Christmas holidays, when Romans and tourists 1_______/ _____ Piazza Navona. Reggie Mudd from Nashville, Tennessee is 2_________/ _________ of the crowds and Baroque fountains. He has heard about the new hotel tax, but he's 3_________ about the extra cost.

The Rome City Council has pledged that it will remove some of the city’s 4_________/ __________ and offer better services. That's a 5__________/ __________. 
The traffic in Rome 6_________/ _________ church bells. And walking is not a feat for the 7__________ . Pedestrians have to 8________/ ________/ _________ through thousands of cars parked along narrow streets and beware when walking through the streets not to 9___________ their ankles on ever-present 10____________ and broken 11__________________

Francesca Corsetti, 12____________ at a three-star hotel in Rome, states that people believe the tax  is 13_______________ and no one is convinced that services will improve.
Poggioli states that  Rome is arguably the 14______________ of modern tourism. Rome was the 15_________/ _________ of the required educational 16_________/ __________ as 17____________  by some writers. It’s possible that Romans take the annual tourist 18___________  for granted. 
Giorgio Sansa is worried as Italy is already 19_________/ _________ to Spain, Greece and Turkey, which are much cheaper.
Sansa says that Italy has some of the best 20____________ in the world.
Poggioli states that  the 21________________ Rome City Council is 22____________ by criticism of the tax.

1. flock to (flock to go or gather together somewhere in large numbers. E.g. Thousands of people flocked to the beach this weekend.)

2. snapping photos (snap to take a photograph E.g. A passing tourist snapped the incident.)

3. unfazed (/ ʌnˈfeɪzd/ not worried or surprised by something unexpected that happens. E.g. She was totally unfazed by the news.)

4. major shortcomings (shortcoming /ˈʃɔːtkʌmɪŋ/ a fault in somebody's character, a plan, a system, etc. Defect. Sp. defecto, fallo. E.g. She made me aware of my own shortcomings. Despite a number of shortcomings, the project will still go ahead.)

5. tall order (be a tall order (informal) to be very difficult to do. E.g. That's a tall order. They thought that the deadline was a tall order

6. Drowns out (drown somebody/ something (out) (of a sound) to be louder than other sounds so that you cannot hear them. Sp. ahogar. E.g. She turned up the radio to drown out the noise from next door.)

7. fainthearted (lacking confidence and not brave; afraid of failing. Sp. cobarde, pusilánime. E.g. He tried not to appear faint-hearted.) 

8. elbow their way (elbow somebody/ something (+adverb/preposition) to push somebody with your elbow, usually in order to get past them. E.g. She elbowed me out of the way to get to the front of the line. He elbowed his way through the crowd.)

9. sprain (sprain something to injure a joint in your body, especially your wrist or ankle, by suddenly twisting it. Sp. hacerse un esguince, torcerse. E.g. I stumbled and sprained my ankle.

10. potholes (pothole /ˈpɒthəʊl/ a large rough hole in the surface of a road that is formed by traffic and bad weather. Sp. bache. E.g. he drove very cautiously over the potholes in the road

11. cobblestones (also cobbles small stones used to make the surfaces of roads, especially in the pas).

12. concierge / ˈkɒnsieəʒ/ 1 a person, especially in France, who takes care of a building containing flats/ apartments and checks people entering and leaving the building. 2 (especially North American English) a person in a hotel whose job is to help guests by giving them information, arranging theatre tickets, etc.)

13. steep (too much; unreasonable. Expensive. E.g. £2 for a cup of coffee seems a little steep to me.)

14. cradle 

15. focal point (a thing or person that is the centre of interest or activity. Sp. foco de atención. E.g. In rural areas, the school is often the focal point for the local community. He quickly became the focal point for those who disagreed with government policy.)

16. grand tour ((also Grand Tour) a visit to the main cities of Europe made by rich young British or American people as part of their education in the past.)

17. conceived (conceive to form an idea, a plan, etc. in your mind; to imagine something. E.g. He conceived the idea of transforming the old power station into an arts centre. I cannot conceive (= I do not believe) (that) he would wish to harm us.) 

18. onslaught (/ˈɒnslɔːt/ an overwhelmingly large number of people or things. E.g. in some parks the onslaught of cars and people far exceeds capacity) 

19. losing ground (give/ lose ground (to somebody/ something) to allow somebody to have an advantage; to lose an advantage for yourself. E.g. They are not prepared to give ground on tax cuts. The Conservatives lost a lot of ground to the Liberal Democrats at the election.) 

20. cuisine 

21. cash-strapped (without enough money. E.g. cash-strapped governments/ shoppers)

22. undeterred  (/ˌʌndɪˈtɜːd/ if somebody is undeterred by something, they do not allow it to stop them from doing something. Sp. que no puede ser disuadido. E.g. He was undeterred by these disasters)


Rome has long been a prime destination for tourists, from backpackers to religious pilgrims. Recently, city officials decreed that all hotels, even campsites, must impose a new tax on travelers.
And as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from the Italian capital, hotel owners are furious.
Unidentified Man: (Italian spoken)
SYLVIA POGGIOLI: There's a carnival atmosphere in Rome at the end of the Christmas holidays, when Romans and tourists flock to Piazza Navona. Reggie Mudd from Nashville, Tennessee is snapping photos of the crowds and Baroque fountains. He has heard about the new hotel tax, but he's unfazed about the extra cost.
Mr. REGGIE MUDD: I mean, coming to Italy is expensive, you know, to begin with. So a little bit more, I mean, are you not going to come because of it? I don't think so.
POGGIOLI: However, Italian tourist Giorgio Severini, visiting with his family of four, is angry.
Mr. GIORGIO SEVERINI: (Through Translator) I guess we have to pay, but I don't know whether it's justified. And, in any case, they should have warned us ahead of time.
POGGIOLI: The hotel tax went into effect January 1st. It varies according to the type of accommodation. Each person over the age of 10 has to pay from an extra one euro a night at campsites and bed-and-breakfast, to three Euros -that's about $4 a night - at luxury hotels.
The Rome City Council estimates it will raise more than a $100 million a year. And it promises to use the funds to remove some of the city's major shortcomings and offer better services. That's a tall order.
(Soundbite of traffic)
POGGIOLI: Roman traffic is so bad, it even drowns out church bells. And walking in this city is a feat not for the fainthearted. Pedestrians have to elbow their way through thousands of cars parked along narrow streets and watch out not to sprain their ankles on ever-present potholes and broken cobblestones.
(Soundbite of ringing bells)
POGGIOLI: Francesca Corsetti, concierge at a three-star hotel in central Rome, says her clients' number one complaint is about the poor quality of public transportation.
Ms. FRANCESCA CORSETTI (Concierge): (Through Translator) No one is happy about this tax, that's for sure, both because it's steep and because nobody knows whether services will really improve.
POGGIOLI: Tourism is Italy's number one industry, and Rome is arguably the cradle of modern tourism. Its ancient ruins and renaissance artworks have attracted visitors for centuries. Rome was the focal point of the required educational grand tour as conceived by writers such as Goethe, Stendhal and Henry James. This may be why Romans tend to take for granted the annual tourist onslaught and have done little to make the city more welcoming.
Independent tour operator Giorgio Sansa is worried. He says Italy is already losing ground to Spain, Greece and Turkey, which are much cheaper.
Mr. GIORGIO SANSA (Independent Tour Operator): We are too expensive. We don't realize that we need tourism. We have so much to offer. We have so much to show. We have some of the best cuisine in the world. We have culture, arts, but that's not enough. We also have to watch our prices, because people are looking for the good bargain.
POGGIOLI: But the cash-strapped Rome City Council is undeterred. Not only has it imposed a hotel tax, tourists visiting city-owned museums are now being charged one euro more than residents.
Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.

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