Venice Determined to End Mass Tourism Even after Lockdown

Venice Determined to End Mass Tourism Even after Lockdown

It is of no surprise that Venice has achieved worldwide notoriety in over-tourism. A city whose permanent resident population barely reaches 55,000, and on the other hand receives 20-30 million visitors per year (most of them being day-trippers and cruise passengers), is the archetype of mass tourism.

Most of these one-day tourists visit the exact same landmarks at the exact same time as everyone else, which by definition, reaches excess levels in carrying capacity and saturates the inhabitants, their prized heritage sites, and their everyday activities. This is a major problem, though not the only one. Overcrowding transcends socio-cultural, environmental and socio-economic impacts on a very tangible negative landscape, but the most noticeable one is that of rude and disrespectful behaviour. This has been noticed by residents on numerous occasions: From loitering to swimming in the canals, to even holding local employees hostage. It is safe to say that Venetians are fed up with this type of tourism, as neighbourhood associations and independent unions have protested cruise ships and their related mass tourism effects on several occasions.

Observing the incremental mass tourism situation in Venice, the city’s Minister of Tourism, Paola Mar, introduced a plan in 2018 to make tourists pay an entry fee (contributo di accesso) before they arrive. It was set to launch in July 2020, however, due to a spike in Coronavirus infections in Italy, the country closed its borders to international tourism, forcing the Minister to postpone the Venetian access fee to January 1, 2022. Visitors entering the city would need to pay €3 during the low season, €8 in high season and €10 during “critical” times, such as summer weekends and festivals. Because Venice is a destination that mainly relies on tourism income, it has been agonizing due to lockdown restrictions, therefore the only ones exempt from this fee will be visitors who spend the night.

Minister of Economy, Michele Zuin, emphasized the need for the tax to be implemented in a gradual manner: “In light of the current situation around the Covid-19 pandemic, we have decided to make an important gesture regarding the optics of wanting to encourage the tourists’ return. The next 14 months will be spent developing the system that will allow people to reserve their slots ahead of time.”

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