Six Roman tour operators climbed on Rome's Colosseum on 7 December to protest against an order banning them from approaching tourists on the streets to sell them their packages. The decree, passed by Rome's municipality in November, came just before the Holy Year, due to start on 8 December and to last almost one year, when millions of pilgrims and tourists are expected to flock to the Italian capital as well as to the Vatican.
The demonstrators belong to an increasing number of tour operators ''hunting'' for tourists near Rome's landmarks to sell them special skip-the-line tours to the most popular monuments and museums of the Eternal City. The protesting operators – who claim their activity is totally legal – were banned from approaching tourists in the streets, including near the Colosseum and St Peter's Square.
''Our protest began right after the decision, taken on November 25 and made even tougher on 5 December, to ban tour operators from promoting their skip-the-line tourist visits offers in the streets, something we do legally by pre-buying all the tickets,'' said Stefano Donghi, one of the protesters.
He said the protest would end only after a formal commitment from authorities to let them back to work in Rome's streets. Research firm Censis has forecast the Jubilee will draw 33 million people to Rome, but a growing number of officials believe the actual number of visitors might be closer to 13 million – the same number as in any normal year. Hoteliers say early bookings were low and some had received cancellations after the Paris attacks.