Venice, Italy, is known around the world for its canals traversed by flat-bottomed gondolas and its historic Piazza San Marco public square, known as St. Mark’s Square.
Unfortunately, Venice is also known for its sizable crowds.
In 2019, for instance, around 30 million tourists visited Venice, according to Conde Nast Traveler. Most of those tourists were there just for the day. For example, approximately 110,000 tourists arrived in Venice each day in August of that year, just to see the city and then leave without spending the night.
While authorities have been debating how — or how not — to address the growing overtourism for years, representatives from UNESCO recently recommended that Venice and its lagoon be placed on the World Heritage in Danger list, in part, because local authorities aren’t doing enough to protect the historic site from the impact of mass tourism.
Now, however, that situation may change.
Venice has announced it will “experiment” with charging so-called daytrippers a 5-euro ($5.40) fee beginning next spring.
“Experimenting with an access fee for daily tourists in Venice will start from spring 2024,” Mayor Luigi Brugnaro wrote on X. “Today in the Council we gave the green light to the amendment with the final text of the resolution that will now go to the City Council. The experimentation in 2024 will be for about 30 days, which we will define with a special calendar in the coming weeks.”
What’s Being Proposed
The plan, which was first discussed in 2019, was shelved when Venice closed to tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After that, it was postponed again due to technical issues and questions about procedures, according to Reuters.
Now, the resolution is slated for approval by Venice’s city council on September 12.
If approved, the fee will be applied on a trial basis on 30 select days next year — mainly on bank holidays and summer weekends when daily tourism is expected to peak.
The city council explained in a statement that “the aim is to discourage day tourism in certain periods,” according to CNN. It added that the dates when the fee will be applied will be announced later.
All daytrippers over the age of 14 entering the “old city” of Venice — all of the lagoon city — will have to pay the fee. Importantly, exemptions will be made for locals, commuters, and people with second homes in the city who have paid local property tax. Tourists who are staying in a hotel overnight will also be exempt from the fee.
“Aware of the urgency to find a new balance between the rights of those who live, work, and study in Venice, and those who visit the city, we are setting ourselves up as global frontrunners,” said Simone Venturini, the city councilor for tourism, CNN reports. “On certain days and in certain periods, we need innovative management of [footfall] flow, to stem daytripper tourism.”
Will The Proposal Do Enough?
The proposed daytripper fee and its merits have been debated for years, and two main concessions have been made over that time.
First, the original plan called for charging a fee to all daytrippers every day throughout the year, instead of only on 30 select days when tourism is expected to peak, CNN notes. Secondly, the original plan called for a 10-euro fee, rather than the currently discussed 5-euro fee.
Still, the proposal is certainly some much-needed progress.
“Tourism management is a priority for the future of our city — a city that will always remain open to everyone,” said Venturini.