The city of Venice has revealed plans to charge an entrance fee to day-trippers. Those hoping to visit the historic city for a few hours will soon be required to register in advance and pay between about $3 and $10 for the privilege, in exchange for which they will receive proof that they have a right to be in Venice during their allotted time. The program is still in the planning stages, but officials have said it will be in place by January 2023 and enforced, possibly via QR code, with a team of “controllers” deployed throughout the city streets to check up on people’s right to be there. Those who have attempted to elude the fee will be fined.
The plan represents the city’s effort to address overtourism, which was rampant prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and fueled by the presence of cruise ships and by the increased popularity of the Venice Biennale, among other factors. The city, home to roughly 50,000 residents, has hosted anywhere between 12 million and 30 million tourists annually, depending on estimates, which vary widely. The throngs have overwhelmed the little metropolis’s public services and caused damage to its ancient infrastructure, already rendered fragile by flooding.
At present, overnight visitors will also need to register with the city; they will not pay a direct fee, with the charge instead being included in their accommodation fees. Guests of local residents will be exempt from the fee, as will children under six and people visiting relatives held in city jails; Venice residents and those working or attending school in the city will be exempt from both registration and fees. City officials are hopeful that the new fee system will encourage people to visit during the off-season, thus alleviating overcrowding. The cost of implementing the program is expected to equal the proceeds it generates, with any overflow going to offset taxes and the cost to residents of services.
Speaking with the New York Times, Simone Venturini, Venice’s councilor for tourism and social cohesion, acknowledge that the city was bracing to encounter roadblocks in implementing the program. “It would be foolish, ambitious, arrogant to think that everything will work perfectly, with a snap of our fingers,” he said. “It won’t,” he added. “It will be a course that can certainly be improved and we will work constantly.”