Following through on commitments to address the issue of overtourism, authorities in Venice have announced when visitors will have to book a slot to see the canal city and pay an entry fee.
The new rule that will require day-trippers to the historic lagoon city to make reservations and pay in advance is set to kick in on January 16, 2023, officials announced Friday (July 1).
The new policy is aimed at managing the flow of visitors. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, overtourism – the congestion or overcrowding due to an excess of tourists – was a hot button issue in Venice, where the streets, at one point, were flooded with day visitors that far outnumbered the overnight guests and local residents.
Venice has long been a posterchild for overtourism as 30 million annual visitors reportedly entered the city of 50,000 residents before COVID hit.
How it'll work
As per the new rules, tourists who choose not to stay overnight in hotels or other lodgings will have to sign up online for the day they plan to come and pay a fee, ranging from €3 to €10 a person, depending on how crowded the city is.
Transgressors risk fines as high as €300 if they are stopped and unable to show proof they booked and paid with a QR code, authorities said.
The entry fee will apply to day-trippers only as those spending the night in Venice already pay a tourist tax.
But the program will likely apply to most visitors – according to city officials, roughly 80 per cent of tourists who visit Venice only come for the day.
The reservation-and-fee strategy had been discussed a few years ago, but everything was put on hold during the pandemic.
An online booking system will be available in the autumn for visitors to pre-book their trip to Venice, authorities said.
Upon booking, visitors will receive a QR code that serves as their ticket, which will then be shown to ticket controllers.
Visitors to Venice will be urged to book in advance as ticket prices could be lower. In other words, the more requests for entry, the higher the cost.
The price could go up, for example, when the number of visitors booked to arrive goes over a certain threshold (which has not yet been shared).
Exceptions to the day-tripper fees include children younger than six, people with disabilities and those who own vacation apartments in Venice.
Cruise ships visitors will have to pay, too, unless their cruise line pays Venice a set fee, officials said.
A "great revolution"
Venice’s tourism commissioner dismissed the suggestion that the new measure is trying to limit the number of out-of-towners coming to Italy’s most-visited city.
“We won’t talk about number cutoffs. We’re talking about incentives and disincentives,” Simone Venturini told a news conference in Venice.
Venturini called the new approach a "great revolution" and a solution for combatting overtourism, which Venice has struggled with for decades.
Aside from the costs of running the new system, proceeds from the entry fees will go towards services that help locals, such as maintenance, cleaning and reductions to costs of living.
"Venice is a living city and it has to stay that way,” Venturini said.