If you’ve ever visited Venice, you’ll almost certainly be aware of the city’s decades-long struggle with overcrowding. In peak season, the city is so rammed with tourists that navigating the cobbled alleyways around the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco can feel more like rugby than a relaxing vacay.
But last year the city started to fight back – specifically targeting day-trippers. These tourists often stream off horizon-blocking cruise ships towards Venice’s many major attractions, clogging up the city’s streets and straining its resources.
Last summer the city banned cruise ships from its historic centre to retain its Unesco world heritage status. The Italian government also declared the lagoon a national monument to help protect the fragile ecosystem from mass tourism.
Now local authorities are going ahead with a plan to charge an entry fee, as a way to control numbers coming in and out each day and discourage ‘hit-and-run’ visitors. The fee will be a flat rate of €5 for a single-entry ticket, which will be paid and booked in advance online.
The scheme was due to start last summer, but will now come into effect over the next few weeks (the exact date is yet to be confirmed). Gates will be installed at the city’s entry points to implement the payment system, and they’ll be backed up by 500 cameras in the city centre to search for stray, non-ticketed tourists.
It’s still thought that residents, workers and students who travel to the city every day will be able to enter thanks to a ‘virtual key’ on their phones.
Venice isn’t alone in rethinking its relationship with international visitors. Here’s how Amsterdam is fighting back against overtourism too.