IIt looks like Venice is finally putting measures in place to curb overtourism, a problem that has plagued the city for years. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 25 to 30 million tourists descended on La Serenissime a year, clogging its narrow streets, polluting the canals and pushing residents out as historic apartments were given up for short-term rentals. . Once the center of a wealthy and powerful maritime republic, Venice’s population has shrunk to around 50,000. The situation was so dire that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee considered putting the town on its list of endangered heritage sites.
Mayor Luigi Brugnaro first announced a plan to charge tourists a fee to visit the city in December 2018, but it was put on hold during the pandemic. It now looks like the city will start requiring tourists to book a ticket in advance from this year, but details are still being finalized, including how much tourists will be charged, how it will be applied and the exact date of implementation.
“We are working to perfect a system of compulsory reservations for the city, in order to discourage day trips and encourage high-quality experiential tourism,” member secretary Dr Letizia Di Maglie told AFAR. of the city council of Venice, Simone Venturini. “Venice is leading the way globally for the development of an unprecedented system to offset the negative consequences of overtourism.”
Di Maglie confirmed that for tourists staying in hotels and other structures, Venice will be accessible without any limitations and that the city’s goal is to control the flow of visitors from a “smart control room” using artificial intelligence , which will also help regulate transport and other services. No word on the (somewhat controversial) use of turnstiles.
A Jan. 7 report from Euronews said the plan for 2022 is to only allow travelers to visit the city after booking a 5-euro ($5.70) ticket online. The Italian newspaper Venice today this month reported that the sbarco mug (disembarkation tax) will go from 3€ to 8€ (3.50 to 9$) for day trippers, but that tourists staying in hotels in the city – where a tourist tax is already added to the bill – will be exempt. The newspaper also reported that the city administration was discussing an app for reservations and turnstiles to enforce them. The Points Guy noted that there will be 500 CCTV cameras installed across the city and police will use cell phone data to monitor visitors.
“In my opinion, they haven’t defined the parameters yet,” Fulvio De Bonis, co-founder of luxury tour operator Imago Artis Travel, told AFAR. Although he and many others in the tourism industry believe something must be done to save the city from overtourism, not everyone agrees on the approach.
Italy’s Culture Minister, Dario Franceschini, spoke out against entry tickets and turnstiles during the presentation of the new halls of the Galleries of the Accademia in Venice last August, saying: “We need to exploit technologies less invasive to control flows, which are there, but if I think of turnstiles an airport comes to mind, not a city.
Other critics of the plan believe that installing turnstiles at entrances to Venice’s historic center will make visitors feel like they are entering an amusement park like Walt Disney World. De Bonis agrees that turnstiles are not the way to go. Rather, he suggests a system similar to the current green pass system in Italy: each time visitors enter a restaurant, museum or other venue, they would have to show on an app that they have paid the tourist tax.
“We must preserve and protect the wonders of Venice, by limiting the number of arrivals. We cannot allow the masses to continue destroying the image of the lagoon,” said De Bonis.
He added: “To enter Venice is to enter a world of wonders that we viewers all enjoy. If a fee is to be one of the means of protecting Venice, I welcome that, but it cannot be the only solution – and obviously the money earned must be used for the restoration and upkeep of the city.
>> Next: Can Venice prevent a recovery in overtourism after the pandemic?