The city of Venice is taking a novel approach to managing its booming tourism sector, announcing a pilot program that will introduce a €5 ($5.35) entry fee for day visitors next year. The city council confirmed the move on Tuesday, aimed at balancing the needs of tourists and residents alike.
Specifically targeting peak tourism periods, the entry fee will be in effect for 30 days during high-traffic times like spring bank holidays and summer weekends. Visitors over the age of 14 will be obligated to pay the fee, which according to tourism councillor Simone Venturini, is “designed to find a new balance between the rights of those who live, study, or work in Venice and those who visit the city.”
Venturini further clarified that the fee is not aimed at revenue generation. Instead, it will solely cover the administrative costs associated with the program. Final details, including the exact dates and operational aspects of the initiative, will be ironed out following approval from the city council, expected to be granted next week.
The plan was originally conceived in 2019 but faced multiple delays. Initially, the COVID-19 pandemic kept tourists at bay, causing the project to be shelved. Later, technical and procedural roadblocks contributed to the postponement. Meanwhile, Venice has continued to experience an influx of visitors, who often significantly outnumber the city’s approximately 50,000 central residents, creating congestion in its narrow streets.
The overabundance of tourists has long been a thorny issue for the lagoon city. Just this July, experts from UNESCO recommended adding Venice and its surrounding lagoon to the list of World Heritage in Danger. The recommendation cited Italy’s lack of adequate measures to safeguard the city from the twin threats of climate change and rampant tourism, underscoring the urgent need for initiatives like the new entry fee.