Venice set to finally introduce tourist entry fees after years of wrangling

There are few exceptions to the proposals  (REUTERS)
There are few exceptions to the proposals (REUTERS)

Day-trippers visiting Venice will be charged €5 to enter the historic centre from next year under long-awaited plans to tackle overtourism in the Italian city that finally look set to be adopted.

A ticketing system will also be introduced to limit the numbers pouring into the famous canal-strewn tourist hotspot.

The city’s executive council has backed the move but it must still be approved by the wider council, which meets to discuss the proposal today (12 September) – a system that Simone Venturini, the city’s council member for tourism, believes will make the city a “trailblazer on the global level”.

According to Responsible Travel, 20 million visitors flood Venice each year. On its busiest days, around 120,000 people can visit – dwarfing the 55,000-strong community of permanent residents.

It has been agreed that plans will only be implemented as a 30-day trial initially, expected to be spread over the busy public holidays and weekends during spring and summer 2024. However, most of the details – such as how many tickets will be available and how tourists can book – remain unclear.

The Independent has contacted the City of Venice for comment.

There will be exemptions for commuters, students and children under the age of 14, the city council confirmed, as well as for tourists who stay in the city overnight.

“Regulating tourist flows in certain periods is necessary, but that does not mean closing the city. Venice will always be open to everyone,” Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, told AFP.

Final approval on the plans comes just weeks after Unesco said Venice and its lagoons should be added to a list of world heritage sites that are in danger due to multiple threats on the fragile city.

“La Serenissima” is at risk of irreversible damage, with the city not doing enough to protect itself from the impact of mass tourism, overdevelopment and climate change, such as rising sea levels, the UN’s cultural protection agency said.

A plan to tackle the effects of overtourism in Venice was first proposed in 2019. It was delayed due to the Covid pandemic, which had the effect of keeping tourists away, and has since faced regulatory and logistical issues.