Venice to become first city in the world to charge tourists for entry
Hermione Kitson in Venice
Venice is set to become the first city in the world to make tourists book their visit in advance and charge an entrance fee in a bid to manage its 20 million visitors each year.
Venice Council says the main aim of the registration and contribution fee is to manage the flow of people at peak periods. Tourism Councillor Simone Venturini says it will ensure tourists and residents can enjoy the city in a less crowded and respectful way.
"The city of Venice is unique and delicate, it must be preserved and not consumed by mass tourism. So, this new system is about finding a balance." explains Venturini.
The fee will only apply to day-trippers as those staying overnight will already pay a city tax and receive a QR registration code via their accommodation.
Venice Finance Councillor Michele Zuin says the price of registration will depend on demand.
"You will need to book via a website and the cost will range from 3 to 10 euros, depending on how many visitors have already registered at that time."
However, some residents and business owners are sceptical.
Letizia Matuzzi is a resident and business owner and says 60 years ago, there were three times as many Venetians in the city.
"There are too many tourists and not enough residents in Venice. All the houses are now rented to visitors, but I don't believe that an extra tax is the solution."
Carlo Romanin has had a bar and restaurant in Venice for 20 years. "I don't know if this extra fee will work but it's true that we have too many tourists who come only for the day and don't bring many benefits."
Andrea Balbi is the President of the Venice Gondolier Association. "We can't say if it is a good thing or not yet because we don't know how or if it will work."
Many tourists are also unconvinced.
Cyrus Hassan travelled to Venice from Iran, "I think this is like a highway robbery, because the people who come here, they spend money even if they come just for the day, why do they have to pay more?"
"It's like we could feel it's a kind of punishment to visit the city, so I don't think it's the best way to make it better or less crowded. An extra payment would act as a deterrent I think." says Filipe Alves from Brasil.
There will be several exceptions to the new rules. For example, the fee won't apply to people who travel to Venice for work or study, those visiting family members and tourists coming to the city for a cultural or sporting event.
Those who are exempt will have to sign a declaration, which if found to be false, will be considered a criminal offence.
"Our approach is not to militarise the city, you won't see checkpoints or barbed wire. Simply a local police officer could ask to see your booking." asserts Venturini.
The system is expected to officially come into effect on January 16 and will be accompanied by an international information campaign about how it works.
Cover photo: People cool off on a hot day during 'Redentore' festival celebrations as the second heat wave of the summer hits, in Venice. Reuters/Manuel Silvestri