In an aggressive move to manage mounting tourist numbers, the city council of the Italian metropolis, Venice, has sanctioned a trial for a daily visitor fee of €5 (£4.30; $5.35). From henceforth, visitors above 14 years will be required to pay this charge and book their city-entry in advance.
Simone Venturini, a city council member vested with the responsibilities of tourism, relayed that the trial period will coincide with next year’s high tourist season. “Venice endures excessive tourism as it remains one of Europe’s most visited cities. The burden of over-tourism is making it an urgent concern,” Venturini voiced his apprehensions.
Despite its miniscule size of just 7.6 sq km (2.7 sq miles), Venice welcomed nearly 13 million wanderers in 2019, as per the Italian national statistics institute. Predictions glance upon an imminent surge in visitors, even exceeding pre-pandemic levels in future years.
“Our aim is to steer daily tourists towards off-peak days,” remarked Venturini. Notably, tourists lodging overnight in the city are exempted from the proposed fee. “We are keen on giving the charge a test run for improvements if needed. We cannot pathologically debate on the best course of action for another 40 years.”
Earlier this year, Unesco commented upon adding Venice to the list of world heritage sites teetering towards danger. In the face of climatic change and unbridled tourism, Venice stands at risk of irreversible modifications.
In 2021, towering cruise ships were prohibited from marking their presence in the historic centre of Venice via the Giudecca canal after a ship stumbled into a harbor. These ships were not just a pollution concern, but amplified the city’s chronic issue of periodical flooding and caused erosion to the city’s foundations.
Yet, the effectiveness of introducing a daily charge to dissuade tourists remains hazy. Karina, a German visitor, voiced that such a fee imposition wouldn’t hamper her holiday plans. “€5 isn’t exorbitant for a vacation.”
The predicament remains that Venice’s crowded charm is pushing locals out. More residents are opting to migrate from the city as tourism engulfs the historic island city.
Valentini Rizzi, a PhD student residing in Venice for the past five years, narrates his struggle to find a stable living arrangement in the city. “Some students are compelled to vacate their accommodation during summer as landlords decide to lease homes to tourists and only permit a return in October,” Rizzi explained.
The proportion of lodging for tourists to residents has shifted drastically. Citizen associations Ocio and Venissa’s recent studies highlight an alarming trend: the beds available for tourists have exceeded those for the city’s residents.
Maria Fiano, a teacher leading Ocio, was startled by the data brought to light by her organization’s study commenced in April. “In a span of mere five months, tourist accommodation amplified by 1,000 units,” Fiano said. A testament to the changing times is the transformation of former government establishments like the Chamber of Commerce into hotels.
Describing the situation as dramatic, Fiano lamented, “It marks the transformation from a city to a non-city, teeming with temporary visitors.”
Fiano urges for a cap on rental accommodation for tourists, voicing her skepticism about the outcome of the daily fee initiative. “I perceive the measures of the town hall as merely distraction tactics,” she asserted.