Venice to launch booking system for tourists this summer

Venice to charge tourists entry fee from 2023.

Tourists travelling to Venice will have to reserve their visits to the city's historic centre from this summer, the mayor Luigi Brugnaro announced on Monday.

"Tourism starts again", tweeted the mayor, as crowds of tourists thronged the canal city over the Easter weekend, peaking at 160,000 visitors on Saturday.

Brugnaro described the move as "the right way" to manage the city's tourism better, stating: "We will be the first in the world [to introduce] this difficult experiment."

The new booking system will come into effect this summer and in 2023 Venice will introduce an entry fee for day-tripper tourists arriving in the lagoon city.

Venice has decided to postpone the contentious entry fee system "given the two years of pandemic and suffering" for those in the hospitality industry - tourism councillor Simone Venturini told Corriere del Veneto newspaper on Tuesday - "We will use the next few months to fine-tune the booking platform."

The reservation system would require tourists to book online their visit to the city where, on arrival, they would enter via electronic turnstile gates at key access points, such as at the train station and St Mark's Square.

Local residents would be exempt from the booking system but not those coming from the surrounding Veneto region who would not, however, be required to pay any entry fee.

The reservation site along with details about how it will work are set to be presented in the coming weeks, Corriere del Veneto reports. It will start on an "experimental basis", said Venturini, who added that "adjustments and additions" would be required.

The system will automatically register residents and tourists staying in hotel accommodation but other visitors will have to enter their information on the booking website, reports the Corriere.

The entry fee proposal was first raised a few years ago by Mayor Brugnaro who said the system would tackle over-crowding and "hit-and-run" tourism.

Figures have not been finalised however before the covid pandemic the city council said that it planned to levy the entry fee, which would vary initially from a €3 standard daily rate to €6 on busier days, rising to €10 in the peak summer season.

The plan remains a source of contention among those living and working in Venice.

As Italian newspaper La Stampa put it last year, supporters of the proposal say it would treat Venice with the respect associated with a museum, while critics say it would turn the lagoon city into a theme park.

Photo credit: Stanislav Samoylik / Shutterstock.com.