Venice plans to tax day-trippers in effort to curb tourism

Published: Jan. 2, 2019 at 5:43 PM EST
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A controversial new proposal aims to stop overcrowding in the Italian city of Venice, one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. To deal with the approximately 30 million visitors it sees every year, the city is planning to start charging many tourists an entrance fee.

Its famed canals and picture-perfect setting has made Venice infamous for its tourists. But locals say it has become a Disneyland for tourists, and the city's future is at stake, reports CBS News' Seth Doane.

Hoards pack its narrow alleys searching for that all-important selfie, but the vast majority – about four-fifths of visitors – do not spend the night, meaning the city loses out on potential earnings from hotel taxes.

Now, Italy's parliament has approved a measure that'll allow the city to charge tourists who only come for the day up to 10 euros – the U.S. equivalent of about $11.50.

The money would go toward keeping the city clean, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said, and allow locals to live with more decorum. Venetians have told us they're concerned the daily deluge of visitors is not only straining the city's resources and delicate architecture but causing Venice to lose its soul.

Since 1951, the city's population has plummeted to fewer than 55,000 people but it can see, on average, more than 80,000 visitors per day.

Residents have staged protests, carrying suitcases as a symbol they're on the way out. Before the new tax was announced Paola Mar, who manages tourism for the city, told CBS News that visitors are essential to the economy but that the city has reached a breaking point.

Mar said tourists are our guests and we want to treat them with respect but this is a fragile city.

Mar said they've tried to encourage tourists to visit lesser-seen parts of the city. They've put up gates so they can control the flow and have proposed raising a fine for those sitting or lying on undesignated public spaces. They've also banned the opening of new fast food chains out of concern Venice was "at risk of losing its identity".

This new tax will be highest at peak times. It's not clear yet how or when it'll be imposed but other cities in Italy feeling the burden of too many tourists will be watching Venice closely.