Venice pushes ahead with €10 entry fee plan as tourists flock back

Authorities in Venice are pushing ahead with a plan to charge day-trippers up to €10 (£8.30) to enter the lagoon city as they scramble to gain control of tourism after visitor numbers hit pre-pandemic levels over the Easter weekend.

The booking system will begin in June with a six-month pilot before potentially taking full effect in January next year.

Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, said the city was “the first in the world” to conduct “this difficult experiment”.

Plans for an entrance fee have been in the pipeline since the measure was approved by the Italian government in late 2018 as a solution to mass tourism in a city which, before the coronavirus pandemic, attracted an estimated 30 million people a year. That figure was demolished by the pandemic, and although visitors have returned, the Easter weekend was the first real sign of the tourism sector bouncing back as more than 125,000 people filled Venice’s squares and alleyways.

“Tourism in Venice is starting again, and is a breath of fresh air for [tourism] operators,” Brugnaro tweeted. “Today, many have understood that the booking system is the right path to take for a more balanced management of tourism.”

The measure will apply to day-trippers, who will need to book ahead and pay between €3 and €10, depending on how busy the city is on the day they want to visit.

“The experimental phase begins in June, when day tourists will be invited to book through a website that is being completed by the council,” Simone Venturini, Venice’s tourism councillor, told La Repubblica. “Those who book will receive incentives, such as discounts on entering museums. To determine the access fee, we will set a maximum threshold of 40,000 or 50,000 visitors a day.”

People living in the Veneto region will be required to book too even though they are exempt from paying the fee, while a list of other exemptions, for example needing to come to the city for a funeral or to visit a relative, will be announced over the next few weeks.

Those who stay overnight will be exempt as they already pay a tourist tax.

The plan could eventually include the installation of gates at key arrival points in the city.

Venice is preparing for another busy period this weekend, with the inauguration of the Biennale, the world’s oldest and largest arts festival, and a national holiday on Monday.

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