Venice will charge day-tripper tourists €5 to enter from 2024 in world first bid to curb tourism… but locals say it will make things worse by turning the city into ‘Disneyland’
- The Italian city scrapped plans last year to bring in a €10 after facing backlash
Venice will become the first city in the world to charge day-trippers an entry fee in a determined bid to curb mass tourism, its tourism chief announced yesterday.
From 2024, the city will introduce a €5 fee for tourists passing through, though hotel and Airbnb stayers will not be affected by the move, Simone Venturini said.
The fee will be trialled for 30 days next year to start, focusing mainly on spring bank holidays and summer weekends when tourism numbers are at their peak.
The scheme aims to find ‘a new balance between the rights of those who live, study or work in Venice and those who visit the city,’ tourism chief Simone Venturini said.
The new policy comes in response to growing backlash against the influx of day-trip holidaymakers and large cruise ships crowding the city.
But critics say the fee misses the point, ignoring the more fundamental issue of short-stay Airbnb rentals keeping rents high and deterring permanent residents.
Matteo Secchi, president of the Venice residents’ activist group, said the new fee would effectively turn the city into ‘Disneyland’.
‘Making visitors pay to get in turns Venice into a museum or a theme park rather than a city where people live, go to the supermarket and drop their kids off at school,’ he said.
Tourists are seen enjoying gondola rides through Venice’s famed canals, September 3, 2023
Protesters demonstrate against mass tourism and huge cruise ships, and call for a change in how tourists are catered for in the city after the lockdown in Venice, Italy. June 13, 2020
Plans to introduce fees on day tourists were originally raised in 2019 but postponed due to the pandemic.
Last year, Venice finally made plans to charge tourists €10 to enter the city all year round but ultimately scrapped the policy, with Venturini citing ‘resistance’.
A spokesperson for Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said late last year that the plans had been delayed as the city council had not yet fully approved a new admissions process.
Technical and procedural issues were expected to set the scheme back six months.
Now, residents expect the exact dates of the new plan and how it will be run from 2024 to be announced next week, following final council approval.
Venturini said the scheme will make only enough money to cover administrative costs, and that only visitors over the age of 14 will be made to pay it.
The Italian government last year paved the way for tourism reforms by allowing Venice to impose separate limits on rentals.
The city’s mayor said that policy would aim to limit Airbnb lets, stopping homeowners from leaving the city and renting out their home for long periods.
Venice’s population has steadily fallen in recent years, in part as residents leave and let out their flats to tourists.
In turn, this reduces the supply of available housing and makes homes more expensive for residents.
Barcelona has faced a similar problem and, in 2021, set precedent by becoming the first European city to ban short-term private room rentals under 31 days.
Rome and Milan, two of Italy’s most touristic cities, have also since sought the ability to restrict short-term room lets as rents rise and salaries flatline.
Venetians also have concerns that short-term visitors spend less than tourists who rent rooms or book out hotels for several days.
The main island, which measures two square miles and is populated by 50,000 permanent residents, was visited by 19 million people in 2019.
That averages some 52,000 per day. Figures can be climb to twice that in peak seasons.
But more than three-quarters of those amassing at the famous Piazza San Marco do so for just a day.
A view of the Grand Canal and Basilica Santa Maria della Salute during sunset in Venice
Guests who stay the night already pay a city tax of one to five euros per night and will be exempt from the new system.
But even last year, critics voiced concerns an entry fee system would do little to meaningfully change tourism to the city.
Local newspaper Corriere della Sera wrote of the announcement last year: ‘Venice is becoming more and more like Disneyland.’
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