Venice authorities are going ahead with plans to charge day-trippers up to €10 (£8.30) to enter the city from June this year, in a bid to help control overcrowding.
Tourists residing in hotels will, however, be excluded from the new levy.
Thanks to the relaxation of Covid restrictions, tourism in the canal city of Venice – one of Europe’s premier travel destinations – is finally getting back on track with the number of visitors rapidly approaching its 2019 levels. As an example, over the Easter weekend, some 125,000 day-visitors were counted in the historic centre, creating again a burden on the beautiful but fragile urban landscape.
Over the last two decades, the population living in Venice shrunk considerably from 75,000 inhabitants in the early 2000s to just 50,000 now. Total population for Venice territory (including islands and Mestre) stands now at 260,000 inhabitants, down from 275,000 in 2000.
Waived fee for tourists with accommodation in town
Authorities have battled for years to control the flow of travellers and find a sustainable balance to preserve the ancient city. For almost a decade, talks have been going on regarding the introduction of an entry fee for day visitors. Covid-19 delayed a final decision. But from 2022, day-trippers will have to pay up to €10 to enter the canal city.
Consequently, the fee will not affect tourists who booked a stay in a hotel inside the city boundaries. Hotel accommodation is already submitted to a tourist tax raised by local authorities. The new system will be tested for a six-month period. If showing its efficiency, authorities hope to bring in the fee permanently 2023. The fee will however vary according to the time of the year. During the tourism peak season, it will be at €10 while in during the off-season, the fee will be kept at €3, depending on the month. The city authorities acknowledge that the decision is a difficult one. But they do not see another way to control the flows of travellers and protect the UNESCO listed heritage site.
Potential day trippers will have to book in advance on a website which is being set up. In a press conference with local media, Simone Venturini, Venice councillor responsible for tourism, told that “those who book on the new website will receive incentives, such as discounts for entering museums. To determine the access fee, we will set a maximum threshold of 40,000 or 50,000 visitors a day,” he stressed.
Ban on cruise ships and cheap souvenirs shops
Another initiative recently revealed by authorities is to clean up cheap tourist shops from the city centre. The city is toying with the idea to ban stores selling cheap tourist souvenirs made outside Italy. Fast food outlets selling drinks, sandwiches and kebabs are already restricted. The initiative is seen as a way to help revive local crafts as well as support local food producers.
Various initiatives have been undertaken in recent years to save Venice’s fragile heritage. Last year, the Italian government finally enforced a ban on cruise ships inside the Venice lagoon and the historical core of town. The ban is effective for any ship exceeding 180 meters in length or weighing 25,000 ton.
The plan to turn Venice into a fully sustainable destination (#EnjoyRespectVenezia) is a work in progress and a plan for the long-term. But authorities are confident that from 2025 Venice tourism will definitely look different.