Venice introduces entry fees for day-trippers to curb overtourism

VENICE, Italy — With the world media watching, the delicate lagoon city of Venice launched a pilot program Thursday to charge day-trippers a 5-euro ($5.35) entry fee that authorities hope will deter visitors to make the town more livable for its dwindling residents.

Visitors arriving at Venice's central train station were greeted with large signs listing the 29 dates of the plan's test phase through July, which also provided separate entrances for tourists, residents, students and staff.

“We need to find a new balance between tourists and residents,” said Simone Venturini, the town’s top tourism official. “Of course we have to protect the residents’ rooms and prevent the arrival of day-trippers on certain days.”

However, not all residents are convinced of the brand new system's effectiveness in curbing mass tourism, insisting that only a population resurgence can restore balance in a city where narrow streets and water buses are sometimes clogged with tourists.

Hundreds of Venetians protested against this system, marching celebratory through the town's important bus station behind banners reading “No to tickets, yes to services and housing.” The demonstrators briefly scuffled with police in riot gear, who blocked their entry into the town, before changing course and entering across one other bridge accompanied by plainclothes police. The demonstration ended peacefully in a piazza.

Tourists arriving on the important station encountered almost as many journalists as stewards, politely guiding anyone unaware of the brand new requirements through the technique of downloading the QR code to pay the fee.

Arianna Cecilia, a tourist from Rome visiting Venice for the primary time, said she found it “strange” to need to pay to enter a city in her home country and be directed through separate entrances for tourists. She and her boyfriend lived in nearby Treviso and downloaded the QR code as needed. But as she enjoyed a view of Venice's canals for the primary time, she was still caught off guard when she saw the doorway signs and her friend told her to get out the ticket.

On the opposite side of the doorway areas, staff in yellow vests were conducting random checks on the station. Violators face fines of fifty to 300 euros ($53 to $320), but officials said “common sense” had been applied within the rollout.

The requirement only applies to people arriving between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Outside these times, access is free and uncontrolled.

Venice has long suffered from the pressures of overtourism, and officials hope the pilot project can assist provide more accurate numbers to raised manage the phenomenon.

The city is tracking the variety of hotel visitors, which was 4.6 million last yr and is 16% below pre-pandemic peaks. But the variety of day visitors, who make up the majority of the crowds in Venice, could only be estimated until recently.

A wise control room arrange through the pandemic is tracking arrivals using cellphone data, roughly confirming pre-pandemic estimates of 25 million to 30 million arrivals a yr, said Michele Zuin, the town's top economic official. This includes each day trippers and overnight guests.

But Zuin said the information was incomplete.

“It is clear that the contribution that day-trippers pay gives us more reliable data,” he said.

Venturini said the town becomes tense when the variety of day-trippers reaches 30,000 to 40,000. On peak days, local police arrange a one-way system for pedestrians to maintain crowds moving.

Residents who oppose the day tourist tax insist that the answer to Venice's problems is to spice up the resident population and the services they need, restrict short-term rentals to offer more housing and convey families back from the mainland.

Last yr, Venice reached a big milestone when the variety of tourist beds exceeded the variety of official residents for the primary time, which now stands below 50,000 within the historic center with its picturesque canals.

“Issuing an entry ticket to a city will not reduce the number of visitors by even a single unit,” said Tommaso Cacciari, an activist who organized a protest against the measure on Thursday.

“You pay a ticket for the subway, to visit a museum or an amusement park. You don't pay a ticket to enter a city. “This is the last symbolic step in a project of an idea by this municipality to expel residents from Venice,” he said.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro called the opening day, which coincided with an Italian holiday, successful, recording 15,700 paying visitors, 50% greater than expected.

Venturini, the tourism official, said interest in Venice's pilot program was also strong from other places affected by mass tourism, including other Italian art cities and communities abroad equivalent to Barcelona, ​​Spain and Amsterdam.

But Marina Rodino, who has lived in Venice for 30 years, doesn’t see the fee as a panacea. Neighboring apartments of their residential constructing near the famous Rialto Bridge, once occupied by families, at the moment are short-term rentals.

The butcher shop on the corner is closed. Still, she identified that the brand new entrance fee will proceed to permit young people to flock to the town within the evenings for the normal aperitivo, which might get rowdy.

She distributed fake European Union passports for “Venice, open city,” underscoring the irony of the brand new system and questioning its legal status with quotes from the Italian structure, which guarantees its residents the suitable “to live in any part of the city to move or stop freely”. the national territory.”

“This is not a natural oasis. This is not a museum. It's not Pompeii. It is a city where we must fight to keep families inhabited and businesses open again. That would counteract this wild tourism,” said Rodino.

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