Venice launches experiment to charge day-trippers in bid to combat over-tourism

The city of Venice has launched a pilot programme to charge day-trippers an entry fee that authorities hope will discourage visitors from arriving on peak days and make the city more liveable for residents.

Signs advising arriving visitors of the new requirement for a test phase of 29 days through July have been erected outside the main train station and other points of arrival.

Some 200 stewards have been trained to politely walk anyone unaware of the five euro (£4.28) fee through the process of downloading a QR code.

A kiosk has been set up for those not equipped with a smartphone.

Once past designated entry ports, officials will carry out random checks for QR codes that show the day-tripper tax has been paid or that the bearer is exempt.

Transgressors face fines of 50-300 euros (£53-£257). The requirement applies only for people arriving between 8.30am and 4pm. Outside of those hours, access is free.

“We need to find a new balance between the tourists and residents,” said the city’s top tourism official, Simone Venturini.

“We need to safeguard the spaces of the residents, of course, and we need to discourage the arrival of day-trippers on some particular days.”

Venice has long suffered under the pressure of over-tourism, but officials say that pre-pandemic estimates ranging from 25 million to 30 million visitors a year — including day-trippers — are not reliable and that the pilot project also aims to come up with more exact figures to help better manage the phenomenon.

By contrast, registered visitors spending the night last year numbered 4.6 million, according to city figures, down 16% from pre-pandemic highs.

Mr Venturini said the city is strained when the number of day-trippers reaches 30,000 to 40,000. Its narrow alleyways are clogged with people and water taxis packed, making it difficult for residents to go about their business.

Not all residents, however, are persuaded of the efficacy of the new system in dissuading mass tourism, and say more attention needs to be paid to boosting the resident population and services they need.

Venice last year passed a telling milestone when the number of tourist beds exceeded for the first time the number of official residents, which is now below 50,000 in the historic centre with its picturesque canals.

“Putting a ticket to enter a city will not decrease not even by one single unit the number of visitors that are coming,” said Tommaso Cacciari, an activist who organised a protest on Thursday against the measure.

“You pay a ticket to take the metro, to go to a museum, an amusement park; you don’t pay a ticket to enter a city. This is the last symbolic step of a project of an idea of this municipal administration to kick residents out of Venice,” he said.

Mr Venturini said about 6,000 people had already paid to download the QR code, and officials expect paid day-tripper arrivals on Thursday to reach some 10,000.

More than 70,000 others have downloaded a QR code denoting an exemption, including to work in Venice or as a resident of the Veneto region.

People staying in hotels in Venice, including in mainland districts like Marghera or Mestre, should also get a QR code attesting to their stay, which includes a hotel tax.

The tourist official says interest in Venice’s pilot programme has been keen from other places suffering from mass tourism, including other Italian art cities and cities abroad such as Barcelona and Amsterdam.


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