Tourist-flooded Venice approved guidelines on Tuesday for testing a new fee for day-trippers on peak visitor weekends next year.
The city council gave the go-ahead for the guidelines, tweaking earlier plans for a fee that were announced a year ago. Final approval of the plan will come up for consideration on Sept. 12.
The fee, initially 5 euros ($7.30 Canadian) per day-tripper, is “not a tool for making cash,” the city said in a statement. Instead, the strategy aims to improve the quality of life for Venice’s dwindling number of full-time residents as well as overnight visitors, who already pay a lodging tax and so will be exempt from the fee.
The test will last about 30 days and take place in 2024 on spring weekends spanning Italian national holidays and on summer weekends. The exact days of the test will be set by the city in the coming weeks.
“The aim is to disincentivize daily tourism in certain periods, in line with the fragility and uniqueness of the city,” the statement said.
Those exempted from the fee include people who commute to work in Venice or on the smaller islands, students, residents of the Veneto region, which includes the city, and those who pay taxes on local property. The fee will be applied to day-trippers over the age of 14.
Roughly four-fifths of all tourists come to Venice just for the day. In 2019, the last full year of tourism before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 19 million day-trippers visited Venice and provided just a fraction of the revenue of those who stayed for at least one night.
With just a few hours to spend in Venice, day-trippers tend to flock to St. Mark’s Square and other tourist musts, adding to pedestrian traffic that makes walking down the city’s narrow streets or over some of its bridges a slow slog.
The fee strategy was discussed a few years ago but was put on hold during the pandemic. Travel restrictions during much of the outbreak saw tourism in Venice nearly vanish — and let Venetians have their city practically to themselves for the first time in decades.
Last year, an advance sign-up plan for day-trippers was envisioned in addition to the fee. Tuesday’s statement by the city didn’t indicate if consideration will eventually be given to capping the number of day-trippers at certain times.
Next year will also see the introduction of a new travel authorization for travellers to Europe, which will apply to Canadian passport holders and visitors from over 60 other visa-exempt countries.
Under the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), travellers will be required to apply online for the travel authorization if they plan to stay in any of these 30 European countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. The fee to apply for ETIAS is $10.
Currently, Canadian citizens can enter Europe without any travel permit or visa and stay for up to three months. However, if their stay exceeds 90 days, a visa is required.
From next year, Canadian travellers will have to fill out a form with their personal information, travel document details, level of education and current occupation, details about the intended stay, as well as any criminal convictions.
Children under the age of 18 and seniors above 70 will be exempt from paying the fee. Family members of EU citizens or non-EU nationals who can freely move throughout the European Union are also exempt from incurring the new cost.
—With files from Global’s Saba Aziz