Contributo di accesso: Venice, sinking Queen of the Adriatic, will prevent ‘overtourism’ by charging you €5 to enter

The access fee is an experiment promoted by the Municipality of Venice, with the purpose of regulating the tourist flows in the historic centre, according to city authorities
Photo: @comunevenezia / X (Formerly Twitter)
Photo: @comunevenezia / X (Formerly Twitter)

The Republic of Venice was an over 1,000 year-old sovereign state and maritime power lasting from Dark Age Europe to the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose invasion in 1797 overthrew the last Doge (ruler) Ludovico Manin. Venice, a part of Italy since the 19th century, has been in the news since the 20th century because of its environmental problems that threaten the very survival of the city. Now, civic authorities have taken a major step which they say is a plausible solution: Vistiors to the city will be charged €5 as part of a pilot project that aims to protect the city from ‘overtourism’.

But not everyone is happy. There were clashes in the city on April 25, 2024, as the regulation came into effect. 

“There were protests as the day got underway with locals waving banners and holding up their passports in anger at the city being put behind a barrier in the style of a theme park or museum. Photos show police clashing with some protesters,” CNN reported.

And Venice, the first city in the world to charge a fee for access, may have set a trend. Como, another prominent tourist destination located besides the picturesque Lake Como in the rolling alpine hills of Italy’s northern Lombardy region, is also contemplating such a move, if reports are to be believed.

“In #VENICE, since this morning, we have started testing the ACCESS CONTRIBUTION!” Luigi Brugnaro, the centre-right politician who currently serves as the Mayor of Venice, wrote on his Facebook wall April 25.

“With courage and great humility we are entering this system because we want to give a future to Venice and leave this heritage of humanity to future generations...Today we celebrate freedom and this City, which has made freedom one of its landmarks, will always remain inclusive and open, but demands respect from everyone,” Brugnaro added. April 25 is the Feast Day of St Mark, the founder of the Egyptian Coptic Church, who also happens to be the patron saint of Venice.

What is it?

The contributo di accesso (‘access contribution’ in English) began to be levied at 8 am on April 25, CNN reported.

If you or anyone else is visiting Venice as a ‘day tripper’, meaning you arrive in the city between 8.30 am and 4 pm, you will have to pay €5. 

“The access fee is an experiment promoted by the Municipality of Venice, with the purpose of regulating the tourist flows in the historic center. It will be active on specific days from April 25 to July 14, 2024,” the Comune di Venezia noted on its website.

“On the days April 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30; May 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26; June 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30; and July 6, 7, 13 and 14, entry to the city of Venice is subject to payment of an access fee, unless the visitor falls into one of the categories that entitle them to exemption from payment,” it explained.

“Registering and obtaining the appropriate exemption voucher is required to benefit from the exemption. Residents of the Municipality of Venice and individuals born in the Municipality of Venice are excluded from paying the access fee: they are not required to obtain the exemption voucher and can prove their exemption status by presenting a document certifying it,” the note added. 

Down To Earth has been following the environmental troubles being faced by Venice for over two decades. Our 2003 story showed how the city, founded in the 5th century CE over 118 islands in the Laguna di Venezia or Venetian Lagoon, has always battled its own geography for survival.

It is something that UNESCO too recognised when Venice and its lagoon were granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1987:

Venice symbolizes the people’s victorious struggle against the elements as they managed to master a hostile nature. The city is also directly and tangibly associated with the history of humankind. The “Queen of the Seas”, heroically perched on her tiny islands, extended her horizon well beyond the lagoon, the Adriatic and the Mediterranean. It was from Venice that Marco Polo (1254-1324) set out in search of China, Annam, Tonkin, Sumatra, India and Persia. His tomb at San Lorenzo recalls the role of Venetian merchants in the discovery of the world — after the Arabs, but well before the Portuguese. 

Our 2019 story showed how the forces of climate change, that have warmed the poles and melted polar ice leading to rising sea levels, are now threatening the very survival of the city.

It is something that UNESCO recognised when it decided to add the city to its list of UNESCO world heritage in danger, something that DTE reported.

Meanwhile the Comune di Venezia posted on its X handle that “113 people registered on April 25, with 15.700 paying. Checks conducted verified nearly 14.000 people, without revealing any particular issue”.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Down To Earth