Venice vows light touch in new measure to cut down on day visitors


Venice's mayor has promised a light touch "without queues" when the city rolls out a new ticket policy in a few weeks, seeking to cut down on the hordes of visitors who descend on its canalled streets every summer.

The new strategy to lower the number of tourists visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site calls for day-trippers to pay a five-euro ticket to enter the historic city center and is due to start on April 25.

Although the new policy was announced in September, the city had not provided details on how it would be implemented, causing speculation that the city could install turnstiles or other drastic measures.

But at a press conference in Rome on Thursday, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro promised "very soft controls" and "without queues", saying that the city would carry out spot checks on tourists to make sure they are armed with a QR code.

"This is an experiment, and the first time it's been done anywhere in the world," he said.

"Our aim is to make Venice more liveable."

At peak times, some 100,000 tourists spend the night in the city, with tens of thousands other people visiting just for the day.

This compares with a population of some 50,000 in the city centre, which is steadily shrinking.

This year, only 29 peak tourist days will be affected by the new tax, which begins April 25 and continues nearly every weekend from May to July.

- Venice Access Fee -

The "Venice Access Fee" targets only daily tourists entering the old town between 08:30 and 16:00 local time. Exempt are those tourists staying in hotels, minors under 14, and the disabled, among other categories.

For five euros, a QR code can be downloaded from the website (, available in English, Spanish, French, German and, of course, Italian. Other languages will be added.

Residents and their families do not have to pay the fee, while tourists staying in hotels will be provided a free QR code.

Controllers will be stationed in and around the city's main entrances, notably the Santa Lucia train station, performing spot checks on visitors.

Tourists without their ticket will be invited to purchase one at the last moment on arrival, with the help of local operators.

But they could also risk fines ranging from 50 to 300 euros.

For the time being, there is no ceiling on the number of QR codes distributed each day: "We need to find the true number of visitors," Brugnaro said.

The main aim of the project is to discourage day-trippers, who contribute to the overcrowding of the city, world-famous for its works of art, bridges and canals, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

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