Venice day trip tax begins: Officials tell Simon Calder it is ‘not a money-making scheme’

Exclusive: ‘Humanity has one duty to preserve and safeguard Venice’ – Simone Venturini, deputy mayor for tourism for Venice

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 25 April 2024 10:31 BST
Venice day trip tax begins: Officials say it is ‘not a money-making scheme’

Venice now demands an entry fee from daytrippers.

At 8.30am exactly, I walked through the checkpoint outside Santa Lucia station, the main entrance point for a city that has had enough of tourism.

Italy’s Liberation Day – the first day on which the new €5 (£4.30) charge has been levied for day visitors between 8.30am and 4pm – is also the moment when the city authorities hope the tide will turn.

Papers please: Simon Calder at the control point outside Santa Lucia (Charlotte Hindle)

“Today we are starting the entry fee system to find the new balance between the residents of the community space and the daytrippers,” Simone Venturini, deputy mayor for tourism for Venice, told The Independent.

“Day trippers can be, during some days of the year, overwhelming, and we are trying to keep the number of day trippers lower.”

Around 30 million tourists visit Venice in a typical year – with about seven out of 10 (or 21 million) staying only for the day. Just before the Covid pandemic, Unesco warned the city’s “status as a World Heritage property is in jeopardy”. The city official said that the scheme is aimed not at foreign visitors, but tourists from locations in northern Italy.

“The €5 will be paid mostly by short- and medium-range daytrippers – people who are living in Italy in the nearest region,” Mr Venturini said.

“Venice is always here. They are always there. So they can pick another day to visit Venice.” He said that the scheme is not designed to make money – but to act as a deterrent on peak days: “Our goal is to collect very, very low taxes because it means that we have less daytrippers.”

The deputy mayor rejected the suggestion that it is wrong to put a price on entering a Unesco World Heritage location such as Venice.

“I think that humanity has one duty to preserve and safeguard Venice. If this system helps us to do that, I think that the system is good.”

A line of kiosks has been set up outside Santa Lucia station for new arrivals to pay with cash or credit cards. The first customer was a retired US Army veteran, Mark Michanowicz from Nashville.

He said: “The whole point here is to help Venice. I believe that the Venetians have suffered long enough with all the tourists every day coming in here. I think it’s the right thing to do. I think every city in the world should do this and help each other.

“You’re coming to visit this city. You come, you eat, you go to the bathroom and you leave and then who’s cleaning up all this mess?”

Mr Michanowicz said, if anything the charge is too low.

“I’d be willing to pay €10, I mean, what’s 10 bucks? You’re coming to visit a beautiful city and find out about it – why not help support it?”

During the spring and summer of 2024, charges will apply on 29 days, starting with the 11 days from 25 April.

Visits on the seven subsequent weekends, up to and including Sunday 14 July, will also be subject to the fee. But from mid-July onwards, the charge will be lifted.

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