Venice to impose fees on day-trippers to preserve historic city

From January, Venice will require day-trippers to make reservations and pay a fee to visit the historic lagoon city, in a bid to better manage visitors who often far outnumber the residents of the historic center, clogging narrow streets and busy pedestrian bridges. cross the channels.

Venice officials unveiled the new rules on Friday, which will take effect on January 16, 2023.

Tourists who choose not to stay overnight – and do not frequent local hotels or otherwise pay for accommodation – will need to make an online reservation for the day they plan to visit the city. Reservations cost between 3 and 10 euros (equivalent to $3.15 to $10.50) per person, depending on how far in advance the reservation is made and the time of year.

Tourists who break the rules risk a fine of up to 300 euros ($315) if caught and cannot show proof of booking with a QR code.

About four-fifths of all tourists visit Venice just for the day. In 2019, the last full year of tourism before the pandemic hit, some 19 million day-trippers visited Venice and provided only a fraction of the revenue from tourists who stayed at least one night.

Venice’s tourism commissioner has rejected any suggestion that the measure seeks to limit the number of people from outside coming to Italy‘s most visited city.

“We won’t talk about number thresholds. We’re talking about incentives and disincentives,” Simone Venturini told a news conference in Venice.

Friction between visitors and residents

The reservation and fee approach had been discussed a few years ago, but was put on hold during the pandemic. COVID-19 travel restrictions have nearly wiped out tourism in Venice – and left Venetians to have their city virtually to themselves, for the first time in decades.

Indeed, tourism has rebounded, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. With so many americans are taking the skies backthe phenomenon has been dubbed “voyage of revenge”.

Mass tourism in Venice began in the mid-1960s. Visitor numbers continued to rise, while the number of Venetians living in the city steadily declined, as it was overwhelmed by congestion, high cost delivery of food and other goods in the city without a canal vehicle. Frequent flooding has also damaged homes and businesses, causing headaches for local residents.

Since customers staying in hotels and pensions already pay an accommodation tax, they are exempt from the new reservation system.

With the new rule, Venice aims to “find that balance between (Venetian) residents and long-term and short-term visitors,” Venturini said, promising the new system “will be simple for visitors to manage.” He claims that Venice is the first city in the world to introduce this type of fee for day trippers.

The tourism official hopes that once in place, the fee and reservation system will “reduce friction between day visitors and residents”. During peak tourist season, tourists can outnumber residents by a ratio of 2 to 1 in the city which is only five square kilometers (two square miles) in area.

A declining population

Venice has around 50,000 inhabitants, a small fraction of what it was a few generations ago.

Other small Italian towns have seen their resident population dwindle and have practically offered to give houses to attract visitors to the regions and stimulate their local economies. Sambuca and Gangi in Sicily, with populations of less than 10,000 each, sell homes for bargain prices under 1 euro.

Children under six, people with disabilities and owners of second homes in Venice are exempt from paying the excursion tax. Owners of secondary residences must prove that they pay property taxes to avoid fees.

Cruise ship passengers contribute to Venice’s congestion problem, especially in and around St. Mark’s Square. They will also have to pay the fees.

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