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Overtourism in Venice |  Paid entry: Tourism “must change,” according to the mayor

Overtourism in Venice | Paid entry: Tourism “must change,” according to the mayor

(Venice) Tourism in Venice “must change” if we are to protect this fragile and endangered UNESCO World Heritage city, the city’s mayor announced on Thursday, welcoming the smooth start of five-euro paid entry into his city.


“We spent more money today than we earned, however […] “It is a way to make people understand that we have to change and thus reduce visits” throughout the year, Luigi Brugnaro declared. “People understand that,” he stressed.

In the face of the damage caused by excessive tourism and the failure to take appropriate measures to reduce it, UNESCO threatened to place the city on the list of “World Heritage in Danger.”

To avoid this, the city committed in September to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which met in Riyadh, to develop a system to manage the flow of visitors this year.

For this world premiere, Venice sold around 15,700 tickets, according to official figures released at the end of the day. There is no maximum number of tickets available.

These tickets, which are in the form of QR codes and sold online or on site, must be presented to controllers specially stationed at the station square, which is the main entrance to the dog town.

“The aim is to define a new system to manage tourist flows and discourage day tourism in Venice during certain periods,” the city council noted on Thursday.

Sylvain Pellerin, a French tourist who has been coming regularly to the lagoon for 50 years, agrees: “I think it's a good thing because it might slow down the numbers of tourists in Venice.”

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In front of Santa Lucia Station, the main entry point into the city, a ticket office has been set up from scratch to help tourists who don't have the precious ticket.

For the mayor, “the greatest relief was seeing people approaching (checkpoints, editor's note) waving their QR code.” “These people understood” what was at stake, he beamed.

“an experience”

Venice is the first tourist city in the world to impose entrance fees like theme parks, while anti-overtourism movements are multiplying, especially in Spain, prompting the authorities to move to reconcile the well-being of residents with a very important economic sector. .

The city's mayor admitted in early April that it was an “experiment” that would undoubtedly be followed by other major tourist cities around the world.

Venice, one of the world's most visited cities, has already banned giant cruise ships from its historic centre, where passenger flocks must also show their credentials.

At the peak of attendance, 100,000 tourists sleep in Venice, in addition to tens of thousands of visitors daily. Compare that to about 50,000 residents in the city centre, which continues to be depopulated.

However, at this point, the experiment remains very limited in scope: for 2024, only 29 days will be affected by this new tax, which will apply approximately every weekend from May to July.

Many exemptions

This tax also targets tourists who enter the Old City daily only between 8:30 AM and 4 PM local time. They can download their QR code on the designated website (https://cda.ve.it/fr/), available in English, Spanish, French, German, as well as Italian.

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A fine of between 50 to 300 euros ($73 to $440) is set to be imposed to punish tourists who try to slip through the cracks, even if local authorities say they want to favor persuasion over repression.

Tourists who sleep at least one night on site are exempt and receive a free QR code for their accommodation. Many other exemptions are planned: under 14 years of age, students, etc. On Thursday, about 97,300 people benefited, according to the city council.

But this new measure is not unanimous among Venetians, as some see it as an attack on freedom of movement and another step towards turning their city into a museum.

“We are not a museum or a nature reserve, but a city, we should not pay money” to access it, protests Marina Dodino, a fifty-year-old retiree and member of the local residents' association ARCI Venezia.

At the end of the morning, a demonstration was held not far from the station, which included about 300 people in a good atmosphere. They walked behind a large banner that read, “No to the ticket!” Yes to housing and services for all.”

This post is “The Apotheosis of Venice.” […] “We are in a city where all accommodations are monopolized by Airbnbs, where the mayor could regulate tourist rentals, but he doesn’t.”

She concludes: “If we want to solve the tourism problem, we have to start with the housing problem.”