Battling mass tourism, Venice introduces day tickets

Battling mass tourism, Venice introduces day tickets

/ 11:59 AM April 25, 2024

Battling mass tourism, Venice introduces day tickets

A gondola sails under the Rialto Bridge on April 24, 2024 in Venice, on the eve of the start of the official trial of the city’s booking system for day-trippers. Venice will begin on April 25, 2024 charging day trippers for entry, a world first aimed at easing pressure on the Italian city drowning under the weight of mass tourism. AFP

VENICE — The ticket office is in place and the inspectors are primed — Venice launches a new scheme Thursday to charge day-trippers looking to enter the historic Italian city, a world first intended to ease the pressure of mass tourism.

Visitors entering the UNESCO World Heritage site for the day will have to buy a five-euro ($5.3) ticket, with inspectors carrying out spot checks at key entry points.


Considered one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, Venice is one of the world’s top tourist destinations — but is drowning under the weight of the crowds.


Under the trial system, so-called Access Fee tickets will be required only on 29 busy days throughout 2024, mostly weekends from May to July, with the goal of persuading day-trippers to visit during quieter times.

READ: Mass protests in Canary Islands decry overtourism

“The aim is to find a new balance between tourism and the city of its residents,” Simone Venturini, the local councillor responsible for tourism, told AFP.

“We must work to reduce the impact of daily tourism on certain days… (which) generates stress for the city,”, he said.

The scheme is being closely watched as destinations around the world grapple with huge numbers of tourists, who boost the local economy but risk overwhelming local communities and damaging fragile ecosystems and historical sites.

UNESCO warning

Venice, spread over more than 100 small islands and islets in northeastern Italy, was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1987.


But the numbers of people seeking to experience what the UN cultural body calls an “extraordinary architectural masterpiece” are widely considered to be unsustainable.

READ: We’re full! Europe’s fight against overtourism

At peak times, 100,000 visitors stay overnight in the historic centre of Venice, double the resident population of just 50,000.

Tens of thousands more pour into the city’s narrow streets for the day, often from cruise ships, to see sights including St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge.

UNESCO threatened last year to put Venice on its list of heritage in danger, citing mass tourism as well as rising water levels in its lagoon attributed to climate change.

Venice escaped the ignominy only after local authorities agreed the new ticketing system.

The idea had long been debated but repeatedly postponed over concerns it would seriously dent tourist revenue and compromise freedom of movement.

Ashish Thakkar, an American tourist visiting on Wednesday with his wife, questioned how much of an effect the day pass would have.

“If I’m coming all the way from out of the country, five euros just to get access to the city — I wouldn’t mind paying it,” he told AFP.

“I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference.”

Venturini hopes the initiative will persuade Italians living in the region not to come on busy days such as Thursday, when Italy marks its World War II Liberation Day.

Venice had already imposed a ban in 2021 on the massive cruise ships from which thousands of day-trippers emerge daily, rerouting them to a more distant industrial port.

Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, acknowledged that the tickets were “an experiment”, and officials are not entirely sure how the system is going to pan out.

No queues

Earlier this month, Brugnaro told reporters the new system would be monitored with “very soft controls” and “without queues”.

Visitors are being encouraged to buy their tickets online beforehand, but will be able to buy one on arrival.

A new ticket office has been set up on the square in front of the Santa Lucia train station, the main point of entry into the city.

Controllers will carry out spot checks in key areas, with fines ranging from 50 to 300 euros ($53 to $320).

Tourists staying in Venice, who already pay an overnight tax for the privilege, are exempt from the new tickets, as are those arriving between 4:00 pm and 8:30 am, minors under 14 and the disabled.

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For the time being, there is no ceiling on the number of day tickets — downloaded in the form of a QR code from a website (

TAGS: Italy, Mass Tourism, Venice

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