Venice is poised to approve a trial of a €5 ($5.37; £4.29) daily fee for tourists as part of efforts to manage and alleviate the challenges of over-tourism. This measure will require all visitors aged 14 and above to pay the fee and pre-book their entry to the city, with the trial scheduled for implementation during peak tourist seasons in the upcoming year.
Simone Venturini, a city council member responsible for tourism, emphasized the urgency of addressing over-tourism in Venice, which is among Europe’s most visited cities and grapples intensely with the consequences of excessive tourism.
Venice, with a compact area of just 7.6 sq km (2.7 sq miles), hosted nearly 13 million tourists in 2019, according to Italy’s national statistics institute, and visitor numbers are expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels in the coming years.
“The objective is to encourage daily tourists to choose off-peak days,” stated Mr. Venturini. He also expressed the need to test the fee’s effectiveness and make improvements if necessary, highlighting that the city cannot afford to delay action for another four decades.
Earlier this year, Unesco recommended placing Venice on its list of world heritage sites in danger due to the threats posed by climate change and mass tourism, both of which could lead to irreversible transformations in the city.
In 2021, large cruise ships were prohibited from entering Venice’s historic center via the Giudecca canal following a ship collision in the harbor. Critics argued that these ships caused pollution and erosion of the city’s foundations, which already faces frequent flooding.
While the introduction of a daily fee aims to address over-tourism, its impact on tourists remains uncertain. Some visitors, like Karina from Germany, are open to paying the fee, considering it a reasonable cost for their holiday experience. However, others share concerns about the price, with Cal, a student from Ireland, noting that €5 might be steep for simply exploring the city.
The influx of tourists has led to more residents leaving Venice, as the city’s historic charm becomes increasingly overwhelmed. Organizations like Ocio and Venissa have been monitoring the distribution of accommodations in the city, revealing that the number of beds available to tourists has exceeded those for residents. Many historic government buildings have been converted into hotels, contributing to the city’s transformation into a temporary tourist destination.
Maria Fiano, who leads Ocio, believes that the solution lies in restricting rental accommodations for tourists. She views the proposed daily fee by the town hall as a potentially insufficient measure to address the broader challenges posed by over-tourism, considering it “smoke and mirrors” in the larger context of Venice’s transformation.