Venice postpones ‘tourist tax’ on day-trippers until 2023
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Venice has postponed plans to charge visitors a “tourist tax” in its fight against overtourism, according to reports.
Earlier this year, Venetian authorities announced that tourists heading to The Floating City would, starting next month, have to buy tickets for between $3.14 and $10.56 (£2.50–£8.40) per day.
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However, the city now appears to have backtracked according to a report by Euronews, following a vote by the Venice town council, which decided that the booking and payment system will now launch on Jan. 16, 2023.
The news comes just one month after the city announced the launch of its portal for incoming tourists to book their visiting slots.
The initial launch plan was part of a larger crackdown on overtourism suffered by the ancient canal city, which in addition to sinking under rising sea levels has sunk farther beneath the weight of day-tripping tourists.
“Tourism starts again in #Venezia,” city mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted in April. “A breath of fresh air for operators. Today, many understand that making the city bookable is the right way to take, for a more balanced management of tourism,” the mayor tweeted on April 18. “We will be the first in the world in this difficult experimentation.”
The fee, essentially a tourist tax, is a way of limiting entry to the popular city and has been in the works since 2019, when TPG first reported the plan. Its activation, however, has been delayed for various reasons, including the pandemic.
“The aim is to discourage one-day tourism, hit-and-run tourism, arriving in one day and leaving in the same day, tiring and stressing the city, and encouraging slower tourism instead,” Simone Venturini, the city’s deputy mayor for tourism, said previously.
The vast daily influx of tourists has driven up the cost of living to the point that many locals have left the city in recent years. Five years ago, Venice had 67,000 permanent residents. As of 2022, this number has dropped to 50,000.
‘Big Brother’ in Venice?
The fee is among a raft of measures officials have signed off on in hopes of reducing the 100,000 people who stroll along the city’s winding waterways and storied squares every day.
The ticketing system will be backed by an extra 500 closed-circuit TV cameras installed to keep an eye on the flow of visitors, in “big brother” measures that some have likened to George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel “1984.”
On top of that, police will harness individual mobile phone data to establish the identity of people in real time.
“If I enter the data in the aggregated anonymous form, we can see exactly who these people are: 977 foreigners, 800 Italians, 135 residents and 139 commuters,” Maria Teresa Maniero, deputy commander at the Venice Police, said in January after announcing the system.
The sinking city
Tourism has become something of a double-edged sword for Venetians of late, where it both keeps livelihoods afloat while simultaneously smothering aspects of its centuries-old way of life.
While overtourism had been held in check by the pandemic, it now threatens to reassert itself as travel restrictions across the world loosen.
Before the pandemic, Venice drew as many as 80,000 tourists each day, approximately 25 million per year.
The heavy congestion had gotten so bad, that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee considered adding Venice to its list of endangered heritage sites. But that decision was abandoned after Italy banned large cruise ships from entering Venice’s waters in April.
Featured image by Peter Zelei Images/Getty.
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