Venice announces five-euro entry fee amid resident protests

asmaa - | World News

Venice, known for its unparalleled beauty, embarked on a groundbreaking initiative on Thursday by implementing entry fees for day-trippers, marking a global first in the battle against mass tourism.

However, this move has sparked dissent among protesters who argue against commodifying the historic city as a mere museum.

As part of a trial run, individuals exploring Venice for a day are now required to purchase a five-euro ticket, with inspectors conducting random checks at key entry points. With its allure attracting droves of tourists, Venice has been struggling to cope with the overwhelming influx of visitors.

The initiative, termed the "Venice Access Fee," is being introduced initially on 29 peak days throughout 2024, primarily weekends from May to July. The aim is not to cap ticket availability but rather to encourage day-trippers to opt for quieter times.

By late morning, approximately 13,000 tickets had already been sold, either online or at the newly established ticket office at the Santa Lucia train station. Overnight visitors, minors below 14 years, and certain others are exempt from the fee, which is intended to alleviate the strain caused by tourism on the city's infrastructure and residents.

While some, like Sylvain Pelerin, a French tourist, view the measure positively as a means to mitigate tourist numbers, others vehemently oppose it, arguing that it infringes upon their freedom of movement. Around 300 individuals gathered in protest near the station, denouncing the commercialization of Venice and its transformation into a mere tourist attraction.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro characterizes the scheme as an experiment with lenient enforcement, emphasizing persuasion over punishment. Inspectors stationed at key entry points will issue fines ranging from 50 to 300 euros to those without tickets, although no penalties were anticipated on the inaugural day.

This initiative is closely monitored amidst global concerns over mass tourism's adverse effects on local communities and fragile heritage sites. Venice, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, has been grappling with issues exacerbated by tourism, including overcrowding and environmental concerns such as rising water levels in its lagoon.

By implementing this ticketing system and previously banning large cruise ships, Venice seeks to strike a balance between tourism and preserving its cultural and environmental integrity. However, challenges persist, including addressing the expansion of short-term rentals, which exacerbate housing shortages for locals.

Ultimately, Venice's endeavor underscores the urgent need for sustainable tourism practices to ensure the city's long-term viability as a cherished global destination.

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