Venice has announced it will postpone its controversial ‘tourist tax’ until January 2023. But plans are still moving ahead for a new pre-booking system, which is due to roll out this month. So will these measures help get overtourism under control? And what else is being done to save the ‘dying city’?
The proposed entrance fee for Venice has been pushed back again, this time till January 2023, as the lagoon city prepares to welcome a new surge of summer tourists.
The move comes after 160,000 travelers flocked to Venice for Easter weekend, prompting the city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, to announce a two-part scheme to curb overtourism: A daily fee for travelers of up to €10 (now delayed), and a new pre-booking system, which is due to roll out in June 2022.
As Europe opens up again, and Venice inches closer to pre-pandemic visitor numbers, the big question looming over everyone’s head is: Can we make this sustainable?
“Tourism starts again,” Brugnaro tweeted in April. “We will be the first in the world [to introduce] this difficult experiment. Today, many have understood that the booking system is the right path to take for a more balanced management of tourism.”
Venice has a well-documented overtourism problem, and an entrance fee (labeled by some as a ‘tourist tax’) has been in the pipeline since it was approved by the Italian government in 2018. It was postponed amid COVID-19 restrictions, and has now been pushed back again.
Instead, a six-month pilot pre-booking program is about to get underway. The new system will require all visitors to Venice to reserve their spot in advance. It’s a free reservation—for now—and once booked, each traveler will receive a QR code. This code will eventually be scanned at certain high-flow access points to the city, such as Santa Lucia train station and St Mark’s Square.
Local residents would obviously be exempt from this program, although day-trippers from the surrounding Veneto region will still need to register. There are a few other proposed exemptions, too, such as those entering Venice to see relatives, or attend funerals.