Venice’s First-of-Its-Kind ‘Day-Tripper Tax’ Sparks Outrage

Protestors say the entry fee is an ineffective solution to the city’s overtourism challenges

On April 25, protesters demonstrate against Venice's new day-tripper tax.
On April 25, protesters demonstrate against Venice's new day-tripper tax. Marco Bertorello / AFP via Getty Images

In Venice, a city so beautiful that other countries claim their city is "the Venice of [insert geographic descriptor]" tourism remain steadfast. A 2020 study by the Department of Economics at the Ca’Foscari University of Venice found that the city welcomes 30 million visitors annually. But more than 20 million of those spend less than one day in the city, Forbes’ James Ferrell reports.

“It’s out of control. We’ve become Italy’s answer to Disneyland,” Lidia Fersuoch, a Venice native, told the Wall Street Journal last year.

On April 25—the day when Italy celebrates its World War II liberation from Nazi Germany—Venice became the first city in the world to charge tourists an entry fee. The tax, which is on a trial run for more than two dozen peak travel days through July 14, only applies to those 20 million day-trippers, who must pay €5 to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This new charge comes after the city almost landed on UNESCO’s “World Heritage in Danger” list last year, and in recent years, the city and country have taken significant steps to curb the influx of tourists and the effects of climate change. Large cruise ships can no longer traverse Venice’s waters, sea barriers prevent high tides from flooding the sinking city and officials have begun tracking tourists via their cellphone data to monitor movements in the area, the New York Times’ Elisabetta Povoledo reports.

The fee is for day visitors older than 14 during the peak tourism hours of 8:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Day visitors can purchase tickets accessible via mobile device in advance. With no turnstiles at city access points, the rule is enforced by inspectors making random checks, Reuters' Alex Fraser and Manuel Silvestri report.

Those who enter the city without a ticket, enter on a date other than the date specified on the ticket or lie to obtain an exemption are subject to a fine of €50 to €300 plus €10 for the entry fee.

Italy’s central government authorized the fee in its 2019 budget, but implementation was delayed until this month due to the Covid-19 pandemic and prolonged prepartions, James Imam reports for The Art Newspaper.

Authorities hope the tax will deter tourists from visiting the city on peak days and make the main island more livable for its remaining population. Smithsonian magazine reported in 2021 that large tourist crowds have ravaged Venice by polluting and overcrowding central areas.

“We need to find a new balance between the tourists and residents,” Simone Venturini, the city’s top tourism official, told the Associated Press’ Colleen Barry. “We need to safeguard the spaces of the residents, of course, and we need to discourage the arrival of day-trippers on some particular days.”

But, in its first week in effect, the tax was met with dismay, as about 1,000 protestors gathered in Piazzale Roma and clashed with police in riot gear, CNBC’s Trevor Laurence Jockims reports.

“We are against this measure because it will do nothing to stop overtourism,” resident Cristina Romieri tells Reuters. “Moreover, it is such a complex regulation with so many exceptions that it will also be difficult to enforce.”

Various groups are exempt from the fee, including students, residents, commuters and holders of the European Disability Card and their companions. The fee also does not apply to overnight visitors, who already pay a tourist tax, but must apply for an exemption online.

A woman holds a ticket reading "Welcome to Veniceland" as protesters take part in a demonstration against the new tax on April 25.
A woman holds a ticket reading "Welcome to Veniceland" as protesters take part in a demonstration against the new tax on April 25. Marco Bertorello / AFP via Getty Images

“We rose up against the mayor’s idea of a closed city, a museum city,” Ruggero Tallon, one of the main protest organizers and the spokesperson for anti-cruise ship campaign group No Grandi Navi, tells CNNs Julia Buckley. “A ticket does nothing. It doesn’t stop the monoculture of tourism. It doesn’t ease the pressure on Venice. It’s a medieval tax and it’s against freedom of movement.”

Gabriella Pappada, a visitor from Lecce in southern Italy, believes the entry fee is inequitable, as it imposes additional monetary constraints on travelers, tells Reuters.

“I consider Venice to be the most beautiful city in the world and so to deprive a person on a low budget of the opportunity to come here for an hour or two to enjoy this city is surely a shame for these tourists,” Pappada said.

Other European cities, like Amsterdam and Barcelona, have overnight tourist taxes to mitigate the effects of mass tourism. And in 2025, the European Union’s ETIAS travel authorization will go into effect, requiring foreigners to pay a nominal fee to enter EU countries. 

“The only way [forward] is to repopulate the city – we have 49,000 inhabitants and there are more beds for tourists than residents,” Tallon said. In 1951, Centro Storico di Venezia—the historic center of Venice, Italy—hosted a resident population of almost 175,000. Today, that number is less than 50,000. “Let’s try to make it possible for people to live here. Every house that’s lived in is a house taken away from tourism,” Tallon added.


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