Venice is set to bring in a €10 entry fee from June in a bid to control the number of tourists entering the historic city.
Under a six-month pilot scheme being rolled out ahead of the first full tourist season since before the Covid-19 pandemic, visitors will have to book to enter the Italian city, and pay a fee worth up to £8.30 – depending on how busy the city is on the day.
If successful, the charge could be a permanent fixtures from January next year. The scheme will also put a limit on how many tourists enter the city each day.
Venice’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, called the scheme a ‘difficult experiment’ that was ‘the first in the world’ of its kind, according to The Guardian.
Before the pandemic put a stop to most global travel in 2020, Venice would see as many as 30 million people visit every year.
That number fell sharply when Covid-19 grounded flights and stopped the flow of tourists, but now that restrictions have all-but eased, Venice is already seeing a return to pre-pandemic levels.
Venice is set to bring in a €10 entry fee from June in a bid to control the number of tourists entering the historic city. Pictured: St. Mark’s Square, seen on April 8
The city, which is slowly sinking into the sea, has faced several issues related to tourism – such as huge cruise ships entering the Venetian Lagoon and with overcrowding in the summer months.
Plans to introduce an entrance fee were first touted in 2018 as a solution to reduce the masses of tourists who visit every year.
While that figure reduced dramatically over the last two years, the recent Easter weekend saw more than 125,000 people flood back into its narrow streets and famous squares.
‘Tourism in Venice is starting again, and is a breath of fresh air for [tourism] operators,’ Brugnaro wrote on Twitter, but added that the return of tourists reminded the city of the need for an entry fee.
‘Today, many have understood that the booking system is the right path to take for a more balanced management of tourism.’
The scheme will require day trippers to book and pay the fee ahead of their visit. The cost will range between €3 and €10, depending on how busy Venice is on the day.
Venice, which is slowly sinking into the sea, has faced several issues related to tourism – such as huge cruise ships entering the Venetian Lagoon and with overcrowding in the summer months. Pictured: A huge ferry is seen moored in Venice in March 2021
Speaking to Italian newspaper told La Repubblica, Simone Venturini – Venice’s tourism councillor – said those who book will be offered discounts on things such as entry into the city’s museums and other landmarks.
‘To determine the access fee, we will set a maximum threshold of 40,000 or 50,000 visitors a day,’ he added.
Speaking last year about the proposed entry fee, Mr Venturini told Conde Nast’s Traveler Magazine: ‘We want to reposition Venice as a place people don’t just come to for a few hours, but experience for a few days, and with a deeper awareness of its urban, social, and cultural fabric.
‘By introducing a ticketing system we can limit crowds, shift away from the ‘day-tripper model’ that’s been so detrimental to the city, and hopefully win back the overnight guests that have stopped coming because of overtourism.’
Visitors who stay overnight will not be required to pay the fee, as they will already be paying a tourist tax included in the price of accommodation throughout the city.
Locals who live in the Veneto region of Italy will still be required to book to enter Venice, but will be exempt from paying the fee.
There will be other fee exemptions too, such as for visitors coming to the city for a funeral or to visit a relative who lives in the city.
‘No Big Ships’ activists – who are against cruise ships coming too close to Venice – stage a protest as the MSC Orchestra cruise ship leaves Venice, Italy, Saturday, June 5, 2021
Plans are also reportedly in the works to install entry gates at the city’s main points of arrival to control the flow of tourists.
Last year, the Italian government banned cruise ships from entering Venice’s lagoon, with the liners ordered at the time to dock at the city’s industrial port instead.
Italy’s culture minister at the time announced the decision was in response to a request from UNESCO.
The decision came after a cruise ship collided with a small tourist boat along one of Venice’s canals in June 2019, injuring four tourists.
Venice has seen a number of demonstrations by locals against cruise ships coming into the city’s lagoon since tourists started returning after the pandemic.
In 2020, Venice opened a new tourist ‘control room’ that uses mobile phone data to log where they go, what they do, and where they’re from.
City officials sitting in the £2.7million nerve-centre, which opened in September 2020, are able to see how many people are congregating in different parts of the city, how fast they are moving, where they stop, and what methods of transport they are using.