Venice Plans to Charge Visitors
For years the Italian city of Venice has been struggling with a few concerns.
Piazza San Marco, also known as Saint Mark's Square, is often flooded. Venice's waterways require repairs. But, by far, the biggest problem is the growing number of visitors to the city.
So city officials have decided to require all visitors to pay a fee to enter Venice. The money will help to pay for cleaning and other services that help to keep the city beautiful.
Overnight tourists already pay a tax that is added to the cost of their hotel stay. The new fee will be required of tourists who come to the city for a few hours or for one day.
Venice's Mayor Luigi Brugnaro explained the decision to international media during a visit to Rome last week.
The mayor said that officials want to defend the city for those who live there. "Venice is a marvel of the world and only in this way" can it be saved, he added.
Brugnaro added that the fee process will be experimental at first. A one-day visit will cost about $7. City officials have yet to decide when the fee collection will begin. The money will be collected by transport companies that bring the tourists to Venice. The city will set up cameras for individuals arriving in private cars. And there will be fines for those who do not pay the fee.
Students, some workers and children under the age of six will not have to pay. Naturally, anyone born or living in Venice is exempt.
In January 2020, the cost of the visitation fee will not be fixed. It will instead be based on how many tourists are visiting Venice on a given day. City fathers hope this will prevent the overcrowding that often comes with large numbers of tourists.
Some people living in Venice say they do not believe the fee plan will work. Lawyer Roberta Pierabon said it will be impossible to collect the money from everyone who visits the city.
Visitors arrive from all sides, she said. She noted that Venice is an island and you reach it on water. She does not believe tourists can be controlled and added that she disapproved of the plan.
Other Venetians like the idea. They say it will make tourism "less aggressive." Michele Tessari often works with tourists on transport.
He said Venetians would like a more sophisticated form of tourism. They want fewer people who come into the city for "eat-and-run" tourism and the entrance fee will help. Tessari says locals no longer want to see tourists eating on the bridges of Venice.
Venetians love their city and know it will never stop appealing to visitors. Venice is so special, they say, that it belongs to the whole of humanity.
I'm Jill Robbins.