ROME - Overwhelmed by tourists Venice will soon start to charge an entrance fee. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro says the money raised will help pay for the upkeep of the historic lagoon city.
Venice routinely has more tourists than permanently declared residents. Rising housing costs and the use of properties for tourist accommodation have driven the population down by two thirds since the middle of the 20th century.
As a result, Venice for years has been struggling with numerous woes, including high tides that regularly flood the city’s iconic Saint Mark’s Square, and growing numbers of tourists.
To deal with the endless flows of visitors no solutions at this moment are final but, starting later this year, all tourists will be paying a fee that will go towards the upkeep, cleaning and services that are needed for the city to survive. City administrators say the maintenance costs of Venice are extremely high compared to other cities.
Visitors who stay in hotels for the night are already paying a tax which is added to their room rate. But later this year day-trippers or tourists who visit Venice for just for a few hours will also be subject to a fee. Mayor Brugnaro this week outlined the plan to the foreign press gathered in Rome.
He said they want to defend the city for current and future residents and visitors because Venice is a marvel of the world and only in this way will they be able to safeguard it”.
Brugnaro said an experimental entrance fee of about $3 will be charged to those who visit Venice this year but said no date had yet been set as to when this charge would start. The fee, the mayor said, would be collected by transport companies bringing the visitors to the city on planes, trains, buses and cruise boats. Cameras, he said, would also be installed in certain parts of Venice for those arriving for the day in private cars. He made clear there would be stiff fines for those who do not comply with the new charge.
Some, like students and workers, would be exempt from paying the fee, as would those who were born and reside in Venice and children under the age of 6.
From January 1st, 2020, the entrance fee will be set to about $7 but will be variable and range from $3 to $11, depending how busy the city is.
Some in Venice say they do not believe the entrance fee plan will work. Lawyer Roberta Pierabon said it will be impossible to implement.
She said visitors arrive from all sides. It’s impossible to block Venice because Venice is an island and you reach it on water. She does not believe the flow of arrivals can be controlled and added that she disapproved of the plan.
Other Venetians favor the idea, saying that it will help control the tourism so that it is not so “aggressive.” Michele Tessari, who, often works with tourists on lagoon transport, said Venetians would like a more elite kind of tourism, not so much “eat-and-run” tourism and the entrance fee will help with this. He said locals want to avoid seeing tourists eating their sandwiches sitting on the bridges of Venice like tramps.”
Venetians love their city and know it will never stop attracting visitors. Venice is so special, they say, that it belongs to the whole of humanity, and everyone should have the opportunity to visit this incredible city at least once in their lifetime.