A night at the Ritz to save a French cathedral?
France is considering a new tax on luxury hotels to fund vital restoration work for hundreds of aging French monuments
PARIS, January 22, 2008 - France is considering a new tax on luxury
hotels to fund vital restoration work for hundreds of aging French monuments,
Culture Minister Christine Albanel has said.
Albanel said a two-euro (three-dollar) tax on four- and five-star hotels
could be an "interesting" way to top up the 300 million euros of state funds
allocated each year to restoring France's national heritage.
"Two little euros, it's half the price of a soda from the minibar, in
hotels where a night costs 180 to 220 euros or more," she told reporters,
predicting the measure could generate 50 million euros each year.
The minister justified the measure in the Le Figaro newspaper earlier by
saying 70 percent of luxury-hotel guests were foreign nationals, "who are
often visiting in connection with our heritage."
A recent report on the state of France's heritage found that 41 percent of
monuments were "in bad condition" or in "danger" -- up from 32 percent in 2002
-- including the Beauvais Cathedral north of Paris, which boasts the world's
tallest Gothic spire.
The cost of restoring the monuments, most of which are located in villages
of less than 2,000 inhabitants, lacking either funds or resources to undertake
the work, was estimated at an average of 400 million euros per year.
To fund the work, the culture ministry is also considering a tax on the
national lottery or on France's 20-billion-euro casino business, as well as
sponsorshp by individuals and companies.