Day-trippers visiting Venice will soon have to pay a €5 admission fee to the city in a bid to stem rampant over-tourism. The scheme, to be implemented next spring, will be run on a trial basis, though the exact dates will be outlined after final council approval of the plan expected on 12 September.
Ticket holders will need to download a QR code on their phone which may be checked by inspectors. Those exempt from paying the fee include children aged under 14, tourists staying overnight in hotels and Airbnb properties along with “residents in the municipality of Venice [and] students of any schools and universities located in the old city or in the smaller islands”, says a local authority statement. The city’s permanent citizens amount to around 49,000 people.
“We set ourselves as a forerunner worldwide, aware of the urgency of finding a new balance between the rights of those who live, study or work in Venice and those who visit the city. This is why, at certain times and on certain days, innovative flow management is required, capable of putting a brake on day-to-day tourism,” says Simone Venturini, the councillor responsible for tourism, in a statement.
The city took a big financial hit during the Covid-19 pandemic with 71.5% fewer tourists arriving in 2020 compared to the previous year, when an estimated 19 million visitors poured in. But as numbers climb dramatically again, locals are pushing for a more sustainable form of tourism.
Critics, meanwhile, say that the current mayor Luigi Brugnaro, who first suggested a day tripper fee in 2019, has achieved little regarding tourist management. Earlier this year, however, he announced plans to introduce controls on short-term tourist rentals, whereby houses could not be let to tourists for more than 120 days.
"Our lagoon [city] is unique, but above all it is a laboratory. Venice is at the centre of every contemporary emergency: from the climate, to which we try to respond with the Mose [the mobile flood barriers between the Venetian lagoon and the Adriatic Sea], to the depopulation of the historic centre, a phenomenon that directly intersects with the extraordinary nature of the tourist offer. But Venice cannot and must never lose its soul,” Brugnaro toldthe Italian publication Quotidiano Nazionale.
In 2021, the Italian government approved a ban on large cruise ships entering the historic centre of Venice, though this decree was treated with scepticism by some Venice experts. Meanwhile Unesco has announced that it will be asking for Venice to be put on its World Heritage Sites in Danger list when its World Heritage Committee meets in Riyadh from 10-25 September.