Home News Welcome to Venice. Please pay 5 euros.

Welcome to Venice. Please pay 5 euros.

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As passengers pulled into Venice Santa Lucia train station on Thursday morning, an overhead announcement told passengers they might have to pay a five-euro fee to enter the city’s historic centre. Failure to pay may result in a fine of “50 to 300 euros,” the announcement said.

Outside the station, police in riot gear lingered, and a group of assistants in colorful safety vests stopped arriving travelers to ensure they had a QR code indicating they had registered for a visit on the city’s website. Those not attending were directed to a booth where they could attend. Once registered, overnight visitors don’t have to pay to hit the road, but those planning to stay for just one day do (although there are other charges) exemption).

It’s a new welcome in Venice, the first city in the world to charge a nominal admission fee to day visitors, a measure city officials hope will help curb overtourism.

“I only found out because my partner texted me this morning saying it was happening,” said Lorraine Colcher, a hospital administrator from Wirral, England, who queued at the stall. “I thought he was joking.”

She said she didn’t think people should have to pay for the privilege of visiting “a beautiful city that everyone wants to visit.”

Not far from the station, hundreds of protesters were making loud noises. For them, charging an entrance fee is a worrying step because it brings Venice closer to what many fear will be the city’s turn into a theme park if the tide doesn’t turn. They whistled and handed out fake tickets that said “Welcome to Veniceland.” Some held signs saying “Venice is not for sale” and “Put it on your ticket” and chanted “We want our city back”.

“Tickets will not solve the problem of overtourism,” said Renata Marzari, one of the protesters and a retired teacher in Venice.

Like other locals, she acknowledges that the influx of tourists – which reached nearly 20 million last year – can be a challenge. This often involves physical collisions, she said, including “pointing incidents, when you walk in on a suddenly raised hand, or photo incidents, when they come back to you while they’re looking at their phone.” But she said, the ticket It only applies to day visitors arriving between 8:30am and 4pm, which is “ridiculous”. She added, “They could make more money by charging for every cigarette butt thrown on the floor.”

Venice is just one of dozens of cities, including Amsterdam, Athens and Barcelona, ​​facing an overpopulation of tourists. Speaking in front of the train station on Thursday morning, the city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, said he had been contacted by other places interested in the initiative but that he was withdrawing “for confidentiality reasons” The locations were not disclosed.

Venice floats on the water crisscrossed by canals. Legend has it that it was founded in 421, although the exact date is disputed, but it is incredibly fragile. Last year, experts from UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, recommended that it be added to the list of World Heritage in Danger. List mass tourism as the main focus. Venice not included in ‘danger’ list after access fee The approval was granted, but UNESCO officials said in a statement that “further progress is still needed.”

Critics of the fee say it does nothing to address the city’s real problems, which have forced many people to leave. According to statistics, the city center’s permanent population has dropped from nearly 175,000 in 1951 to less than 49,000. City statistics. They cited a lack of affordable housing due to short-term rentals; a decline in services such as schools and transportation; and the penetration of tourism into various industries.

Federica Toninelli local association A group advocating for affordable housing in Venice dismissed the ticket as “publicity” and said the city must put “residents’ needs at the center of policy.” She said city officials need to “take strong steps to get tourism in the city back to a more manageable level.”

Otherwise, “this is how a city dies,” said Nicola Camatti, an economics professor at Venice’s Ca’ Foscari University and a tourism expert.

Franca Caltarossa, who once ran a municipal after-school program that she said lost much of its funding under the current mayor, said “tourism has distorted the city.”

“Venice is a vibrant city, not a theme park,” she said.

A Learning in 2020 Tourism experts from Ca’ Foscari, Venice’s main university, suggest that the optimal number of visitors to Venice every day is about 52,000, about a quarter of whom are daily excursions. But Venice does not limit the number of tourists.

“We are against limiting the number of visitors; this is an open city,” said Michele Zuin, the city councilor in charge of the budget. Instead, Zuin said the city hopes that day visitors, who numbered about 10 million last year, plan to come during off-peak hours, when the city is “quieter.”

“We believe this is the solution for managing daytime visitors,” he said.

Thursday coincides with an Italian national holiday, and 113,000 people have registered to enter Venice. Of those, 15,700 paid admission, 40,000 were exempted as overnight guests, while the remaining visitors (also exempted) included students, workers and relatives or friends of residents.

In 2024, the fee will be charged on 29 peak days as “an experiment,” Zuin said. They say the data collected during this phase will help city officials better manage resources and better control the phenomenon. Mr Zuin said that next year, more days would be added to the fee calendar and the fee could be as high as €10.

“Doubling the price makes the city a commodity, nothing more than a theme park, a museum,” said local opposition councilor Giovanni Andrea Martini. In view of the future of the city hall His projects include plans to expand the airport and dig a new canal in the lagoon to allow ships and even cruise ships banned in 2019 to come closer, and he questioned the usefulness of the fee. “This means the city will be suffocated even further,” he said Thursday, cutting short the interview as brief scuffles broke out between protesters and police.

At the train station, tourists queued up patiently to collect their passes at the toll booth.

Charlotte Dean, a wine merchant from England, and Caroline Meatyard, a retired teacher, happily paid the fee. Ms Dean said that was “fair enough”. “Venice is a lovely place and should be cherished.”

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