Venetians Protest New Tourist Entry Fee

They say it's a city, not a theme park or museum
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2024 10:50 AM CDT
Venetians Protest New Tourist Entry Fee
A steward shows the QR code access outside the main train station in Venice, Italy, Thursday, April 25, 2024.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

As of Thursday, one does not simply walk into Venice. The city has rolled out its first-in-the-world tourist entry fee, and while residents have long complained about the effects of mass tourism, not all of them are on board with the idea. Critics say the fee of 5 euros, or around $5.35, turns the city into even more of a "theme park" and does little to address residents' problems, including limiting visitor numbers. CNBC reports that protesters, holding banners with slogans like "No to ticket, Yes to houses and services for all," briefly clashed with riot police at a main city access point.

  • How it works: The fee applies only to Venice's historic island center and only on certain days—it will be charged between 8:30am and 4pm on 29 peak days between now and July 14 as part of a trial project. There's no cap on arrivals, and Venice residents, commuters, and students are exempt, as are tourists who are staying overnight.
  • Penalties: Day-trippers who don't pay the fee and obtain a QR code ticket can be fined between 50 and 300 euros, or about $55 to $320, reports CNBC. On Thursday, a national holiday in Italy, random checks were carried out at main entry points, including a train station, though officials say controls will be "very soft" in the early days of the program, the New York Times reports.

  • Why the fee is being charged: Officials say they're not aiming to make money from the scheme. Instead, they say the aim is to make people think twice about visiting the overtouristed city on the busiest days and to keep better track of tourist numbers, estimated to have topped 20 million last year.
  • Objections: "I can tell you that almost the entire city is against it," said resident activists group leader Matteo Secchi, per the Guardian. "You can't impose an entrance fee to a city; all they're doing is transforming it into a theme park. This is a bad image for Venice ... I mean, are we joking?" Federica Toninello, leader of a housing association, said, "Day-trippers aren't the issue; things like the shortage of affordable housing are." Toninello said authorities should take other steps, including limiting Airbnbs.
  • Objections, II: The historic center of Venice has lost more than 120,000 residents since the early 1950s and is now below 50,000. At a protest Thursday, longtime resident Marina Rodino said stores have closed and the apartments that neighbors used to live in are now short-term vacation rentals. "This is not a museum. It is not Pompeii. It is a city, where we need to fight so the houses are inhabited by families, and stores reopen," she told the AP. "That is what would counter this wild tourism."
(More Venice stories.)

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