Venice is set to introduce a booking system for tourists and will move ahead with its new visitor tax, with the cost rising to €10 (US$11.33) at particular times of the year.
The new tourist tax will be introduced on 1 May, 2019. Each visitor will be charged a standard €3 tax (£2.65/US$3.40) but from 1 January, 2020 that cost will rise to between €8 (£7/US$9) in high-season and €10 (£8.75/US$11) during “critical periods” such as summer weekends when the city’s attractions are overwhelmed with visitors. Different payments will be represented by green, red and black stickers.
However, the measure has been criticised as “useless and damaging” by Gian Marco Centinaio, the Italian Minister for Tourism. “Do we want to become a country that repels tourists?” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday after the plans were unveiled, adding “it’s enough to make you weep.”
The new tourist charge is likely to be included into the cost of visitors’ train, plane, bus or cruise ship ticket at the point of purchase and then passed on to the city’s authorities. It will only apply to day-trippers as Venice visitors already pay a tourist tax if they spend at least one night in the city. Venetians are also exempt from the tax, as are Italians commuting from the mainland for business, local workers, students, family members of locals, patients in healthcare facilities, volunteers and children under the age of six. Those who don’t pay the tax can be fined up to €450 (US$509).
As Venice buckles under mass tourism, authorities are also set to introduce a new booking system for tourists. The city’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro said that from 2022 visitors will also have to “reserve access” to the city, although he did not say how that measure would be applied. It’s hoped the new system will help authorities keep track of visitor numbers so that tourist flow can be better managed at peak times.
The initiatives are intended to control tourist numbers in a city that attracts about 30 million visitors a year. A number of measures have already been introduced to curb mass tourism. These include diverting big cruise ships away from the city centre, considering a ban on new hotels and even implementing turnstiles at Piazzale Roma at one point in 2018. The campaign, #EnjoyRespectVenezia, introduced last summer, instructed visitors not to swim in canals, set up picnics in public spaces, pause too long on bridges, litter, ride bikes through the city or sight-see in bathing suits.