Venice has long been working out how to control tourism numbers and make the city habitable for locals. Booking via an app, turnstiles and a tourist tax are all in the offing.
Talk about a tourist tax first was first proposed in 2018, then delayed until November 2020. Plans to introduce a booking system and turnstiles were discussed in 2019, and subsequently put on hold.
Now, Venice is looking to bring in the entrance fee for day-trippers. Those who stay overnight in the city would be exempt as they already pay an existing tax.
Tourist Tax: prices vary between €3 and €10
Day tourists could pay anywhere between €3 and €10 to enter the historic centre; and could be asked to pre-book their visit on an app, according to news reports.
As tourists return to the city – though not at pre-pandemic levels – the idea of charging or limiting numbers is once again back on the table. The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, expects a backlash.
“I expect protests, lawsuits, everything – but I have a duty to make this city liveable for those who inhabit it and also for those who want to visit,” he added in a press conference on Sunday.
Brugnaro has yet to confirm how may tourists is too many. Nor has there been a date set for implementation. However, trials are now underway.
Tourists must behave
It has been a number of years now, since Venice started issuing its code of conduct for visitors. A dress code and certain behaviour is expected from the tourists and posters were published.
This will not change and may be more vigorously enforced. “There’ll be conditions attached to obtain priority bookings and discounts,” Brugnaro said.
“You can’t come in your swimsuit. You can’t jump from a bridge or get drunk. Whoever comes must respect the city,” he added.
“We have to find the tools, technical solutions to allow people to enter the city and leave out those who cannot enter,” he said, adding: “Venice is open to the world and always will be.”
Some ideas are challenged by authorities
On Tuesday, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini objected to the ideas of turnstiles and taxes.
“We must fight the excessive overcrowding of art cities, but without any entry levy,” he said. “We must exploit less invasive technologies to control the flows,” he added. However, on the question of turnstiles he said, “an airport comes to mind, not a city”.
Venice already employs methods to deal with overcrowding, such as tracking how many people are in Venice at any one time. This is done via CCTV cameras and mobile phone-tracing systems. They show where people are in the city and even who’s a resident and who’s a tourist.
Controversy over new cruise ship port
Whilst the news of large ships being banned from Venice’s canals was received with joy earlier in the summer, controversy remains.
Now environmental campaigners and residents are questioning the motives for the plan. The construction of a new terminal in Marghera for access to the city by water presents “a conflict of interest” that is reaching “worrying levels”, according to senator Orietta Vanin. Some of the land where the new port is designated is owned by Brugnaro.
“The citizens who are questioning the legitimacy of these operations are now aware that choices about the city’s future are not aimed at the common good, protecting the environment and defending the rights of residents,” she added.