Venice authorities are pushing ahead with a plan to charge day-trippers up to €10 (£8.30) to enter the lagoon city as they scramble to take control of tourism after numbers visitors reached pre-pandemic levels over the Easter weekend.
The reservation system will begin in June with a six-month pilot project before taking full effect in January next year.
Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, said the city was “the first in the world” to carry out “this difficult experiment”.
Plans for an entrance fee have been in the works since the measure was approved by the Italian government in late 2018 as a solution to mass tourism in a city which before the coronavirus pandemic drew around 30 million people a year. That figure was demolished by the pandemic, and although visitors have returned, the Easter weekend was the first real sign of the rebound in the tourism sector as more than 125,000 people filled the squares and alleyways of Venice. .
“Tourism in Venice is starting up again, it’s a breath of fresh air for [tourism] operators,” Brugnaro tweeted. “Today, many have understood that the reservation system is the right way forward for a more balanced management of tourism.”
The measure will apply to day trippers, who will have to book in advance and pay between €3 and €10, depending on how busy the city is on the day they wish to visit.
“The experimental phase begins in June, when day tourists will be invited to book through a website being finalized by the council,” Simone Venturini, Venice’s tourism adviser, told La Repubblica. “Those who book will receive incentives, such as discounts on entry to museums. To determine the right of access, we will set a maximum threshold of 40,000 or 50,000 visitors per day.
People living in the Veneto region will also need to book even if they are exempt from paying the fee, while a list of other exemptions, such as having to come to town for a funeral or to visit a relative, will be announced on the next weeks.
Those staying overnight will be exempt as they are already paying a tourist tax.
The plan could possibly include the installation of barriers at the main points of arrival in the city.
Venice is preparing for another busy period this weekend, with the inauguration of the Biennale, the oldest and largest art festival in the world, and a national holiday on Monday.