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Overtourism: Venice will test a tax targeting day tourists

Overtourism: Venice will test a tax targeting day tourists

From 2024, Venice will test a five-euro tax targeting tourists who come for just one day to the city of dogs, a victim of mass tourism and at risk of being placed this month on UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger list.

The main goal of the measure, which Venice City Council voted on Tuesday, is to discourage day visitors from contributing to crowding in the city famous around the world for its works of art, bridges and canals.

In 2024, this online-only tax will include a maximum of 30 days during which the number of tourists is traditionally higher, especially weekends with bridges in the spring and during the summer period. The calendar for the days in question will be published later. Persons under 14 years of age and tourists who spend at least one night on site will be exempt from this tax.

Right-wing mayor Luigi Brugnaro said, “It is a first step… We are conducting an experiment,” and promised that “the system will be easy to use.”

The green light for this measure comes at a time when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommended at the end of last July that the Serenissima region be placed on the World Heritage List in Danger, considering that Italy has not yet taken “insufficient” measures to combat the deterioration of the site. .

UNESCO criticized “Ongoing development (in Venice), the impacts of climate change and mass tourism threaten to cause irreversible changes in the property’s Outstanding Universal Value.”

UNESCO also warned that rising sea levels and other “extreme weather events” linked to global warming “threaten the integrity” of the site.

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UNESCO’s opinion is currently indicative: for Venice to actually be included on the List of Heritage in Danger, the approval of Member States present at the World Heritage Committee meeting currently being held in Riyadh is required.

“Open air museum”

The timing of the vote on this tax could not be more appropriate for Venice, which has been postponing radical measures for years, in particular the implementation of compulsory reservations and setting a quota on the number of entries into the city to stop the increase. Millions of tourists in the saturated historical center.

The municipal opposition did not fail to highlight the sudden “haste” surrounding this measure in order to “show that we are doing something for UNESCO.” Council member Gianfranco Bettin said: “A tax of five euros will not prevent anyone from coming to Venice.”

UNESCO also criticized the “lack of a common global strategic vision” and the “low efficiency and coordination” between Italian local and national authorities. She expressed her hope that “this registration will lead to greater commitment and greater mobilization of local, national and international stakeholders.”

Venice is an island city founded in the fifth century and became a major maritime power in the tenth century, extending over 118 islands. This exceptional site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

La Serenissima is one of the most visited cities in the world. At peak attendance, 100,000 tourists sleep there, 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.

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“We are still seeing a lot of mass tourism, not sustainable tourism, at the expense of the population. Venice should not be turned into an open-air museum,” a UNESCO diplomat explained to AFP last July.

In addition to mass tourism, Venice and its lagoon suffer from high tides that regularly flood St. Mark’s Square and weaken the foundations of its buildings.