Italy may be the world’s top tourist destination, home to a plethora of UNESCO-protected landmarks and legendary ancient cities, but it has simply had it with mass tourism.
In Europe, it is one of the countries most heavily affected by the surging crowds flocking into hotspots like Rome’s Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Brunelleschi’s dome, to the point where livelihoods are disrupted, and locals themselves clamor for stricter curbs on tourism.
Italy’s combat against the phenomenon is already well documented, be it Positano’s banning of selfies or the Amalfi Coast’s alternating car plate rules, but it is about to be taken up a notch as a hugely popular city confirms it will introduce an entire ticketing system.
From 2024, you may need to buy an entry ticket to be admitted into the city of canals on key dates:
Venice First City In Europe To Introduce An Entry Ticket
Though talks of Venice threatening to introduce a visitor fee have circulated online for months, it is only now that the city has confirmed it will indeed be pushing on with the project, set to come into force in spring 2024.
From then, visitors will have to pay a 5 euro fee (the equivalent of $5.40) if they want to enter the historic center of Venice on peak days, even when they’re not spending the night.
The area that is to be cordoned off will include the UNESCO-protected Centro Storico, which comprises some of Venice’s most famous sights, including Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Square, and Doge’s Palace – but unlike what had been suggested before, this is not permanent.
A Temporary Experiment That Could Become Permanent
According to Luigi Brugnaro, Venice’s mayor, the ticketing system will start as a non-continuous 30-day experiment. Except for enforcing it throughout a single month, the chargeable days will be ‘scattered’ across the calendar year.
Which days will be picked out, you may wonder? Well, the ones predicted to be the busiest for daytrippers making landfall in the Venice Lagoon, such as holiday weekends and peak travel dates around Carnival and summer.
On other days, the ‘gates’ of Venice will remain open as they have always been, though the initial ‘experiment’ could be extended year-round if needed. ‘The aim is to discourage day tourism in certain periods‘, reads the X post (formerly Twitter).
This still doesn’t change the fact that, on select dates, day visitors who are older than 14 will have to pay to enter Old Venice, except locals, commuters, sportspeople taking part in events, those who own property in the lagoon, or tourists staying overnight inside the historic center.
Anyone who is exempt will be required to register online and obtain an exemption ‘pass’ to enter Venice without being charged.
It’s Only 5 Euros, So How Is This Relevant Any Way?
While 5 euros will hardly break the bank, and the measure is time-limited, it serves as an indication Italy is willing to adopt exceptionally harsh, and dare we say, drastic measures to stem overtourism.
Venice is only the latest destination in Italy to announce a big change of the sort, and it certainly will not be the last. In Positano, tourists can now get fined 300 dollars for stopping for photos at certain Instagrammable sites.
In Rome, huge fines are also handed out to those sitting on or even eating ice cream on the Spanish Steps. One thing is for certain: due to its increasingly restrictive rules and anti-tourist regulations, Italy is slowly becoming one of the least open-for-tourism countries in Europe for foreigners.
Venice’s own ticketing system had to be watered down due to controversy. Originally, authorities wanted to impose a fee of up to 10 euros for all daytrippers throughout the year, yet this has now been reduced to 5, and the nature of the fee is provisional.
Can Ticketing Prevent Overtourism?
Under the rules that are about to be implemented, on chargeable dates, only those who visit Burano or Murano, two smaller municipalities part of the Venice Lagoon, would not have to pay a fee if traveling from the mainland there directly without boating through Old Venice.
That is virtually impossible in most cases, as most public transport passes through Venice to get to the colorful island towns, so paying would be inevitable.
So far, we don’t know if tourists should expect bigger queuing at Venice’s ticketing booths on these days, whether tickets could ‘sell out’, or which calendar dates have been selected.
Simone Venturini, the City Councilor for Tourism, added the measure was an ‘urgency’ to find a balance between ‘the rights of those who live, work and study in Venice, and those who visit the city’. In his view, they are ‘global frontrunners’.
Overtourism has been particularly harmful to Venice’s delicate ecosystem of inter-connected canals that are either flooding above acceptable levels or drying up completely depending on unpredictable weather, but it is yet to be seen how ticketing will help lower overtourism.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com