The Italian Almanac


Italian News - August 19

Venice may soon become the first city in Italy to charge tourists for the pleasure of visiting it as authorities look to the introduction of an 'entrance charge' to offset the damage done to the unique architecture by hordes of holidaymakers. The idea of a compulsory fee for the city that receives some 16 million visitors per year has been in the air for months now. But this week the city's mayor, Massimo Cacciari, indicated for the first time that it is under serious consideration.

"The great tourist centres have the problem of sustaining the costs of maintenance and conservation caused by the massive presence of guests," Mr Cacciari said. With nearly 50,000 tourists pouring through the city every day, he went on, "people who use the city's services and make it dirty...Venice is in difficulties. If a subsidy from the state is out of the question, we will be obliged to think of a new entrance tax or something of the sort."

Mr Cacciari presented the idea of a visitor tax as a last resort. But when the idea was first mooted earlier this year by the British economist John Kay, it was envisaged as a prudent way of managing tourism in a city which far more people may want to visit in the near future.Pointing out that "12 million people a year pay 50 euros a year to visit Eurodisney," he said, "If the Disney Corporation owned Venice, Venice would no longer be in peril."