Interested in visiting Venice in the near future? Be prepared to pay a small entry fee.
Officials have approved several measures designed to cut down on the crush of tourists flocking to the city. In addition to an entry fee which will be collected via electronic turnstiles, reservations will be required during busy tourist seasons.
The measures, originally approved in 2019, were put on hold with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. They are now set to begin in the summer of 2022.
Entry fees will range from about $3.50 to $12 depending upon the season. Residents, their relatives, children age 6 and under, or tourists with reservations for a local hotel will be exempt.
Venice can get up to 80,000 tourists a day to its ecologically sensitive lands, prompting officials to make the changes, The Times reported. When the pandemic arrived and tourism practically stopped in the city, the famed canals became visibly clearer.
Not everybody is on board with the plan to have turnstiles installed at the city’s entrances. City Councillor Marco Gasparinetti said the plan will turn Venice into a “theme park.” He would rather fees be added only at popular locations like San Marco Square, Bloomberg reported.
This isn’t the first dramatic step officials have taken to protect the city from the crush of tourism. Cruise ships were banned from entering the city center this month, and armed guards have now been hired to control crowds and long lines at ferries and other tourist spots.
The banning of cruise ships was made in anticipation of UNESCO, the United Nations culture agency, which is preparing to add Venice to its list of world heritage in danger.
“It is a decision awaited by UNESCO, by all the people who have been to Venice at least once in their lives, by Italian and foreign travelers who were shocked to see these ships passing through the most fragile and beautiful places in the world,” said Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini.
The armed guards were deemed necessary as 80,000 tourists a day converge on the city of just 50,000 residents. Frustrations with long lines and rules have boiled over in many cases, CNN reported.
“Users take out (their frustration) on the staff,” Danilo Scattolin, legal representative for the Veneto region of the union which represents some of the public transport workers. “Some workers have been physically attacked. There is spitting, insulting, even punching.”
He added that the measure, while not ideal, is necessary.
“The idea that in 2021 you need armed guards is truly something,” Scattolin said. “It’s not a nice image of the city, either, that we need armed guards to protect our staff.”