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Last updated on May 11th, 2024 at 09:47 am

Are you curious about Venice’s new Tourist Access Fee and additional travel policies starting in 2024? The newly introduced €5 tourist fee and registration system for day-trippers, along with additional restrictions on tour group size, are a significant step in Venice’s ongoing battle against overtourism. Approved by Venice’s City Council last year, some of these new initiatives are officially coming into effect starting April 25, 2024. If you plan to visit Venice this year, then this breaking sustainable travel news is for you!

It is finally happening, people. Not only is it Earth Month focusing on the plastic crisis in tourism, but it is also the month Venice finally implements new tourism regulations such as a tourist fee for day trippers and a visitor registration system. Limits on tour group size and noise reduction efforts are scheduled to go into effect later in the season.

gondola ride in Venice canal

For years, The Ancient City of Venice has grappled with the negative impacts of tourism as millions of tourists visit every year, most packed into the peak summer season. Unsustainable mass overtourism has pushed out locals while degrading the natural environment and cultural heritage. The impacts are so severe Venice is at risk of losing its UNESCO Cultural Heritage status, which it has held since 1987.

Past attempts to manage tourism at sustainable and healthy levels have fallen flat as tourism numbers in Venice continue to rise despite the brief lull during the pandemic. In 2022, 30 million people visited Venice, yet only 3.2 million of these tourists stayed overnight. Centro Storico, or the historic island center of Venice, is home to only 51,000 full-time residents.

Venice made headlines when it banned large cruise ships from entering the Venetian Lagoon to reduce erosion, pollution, and overcrowding from these ships. However, the ban has proved complicated, with large ships still arriving, as a viable port alternative outside the Lagoon is not yet in the works. 

Venice has developed a reputation as a place of all talk, with little delivery regarding tourism regulation. So when Venetian Mayor Luigi Brugnaro began discussing these restrictions in 2021, many were unsure if they would see the light of day. 

Even Brugnaro himself told foreign reporters, “I expect protests, lawsuits, everything … but I have a duty to make this city liveable for those who inhabit it and those who want to visit.” 

The new restrictions were initially expected to take effect in 2023, but after a trial period, they didn’t get off the ground in time. According to an official government website, the new regulations are moving ahead as planned just in time for the 2024 peak tourism season. 

What exactly is happening, and does it apply to you? Why does it matter? Let’s dive in!

Venice new tourist fee everything you need to know

What are Venice’s new tourist restrictions and policies for 2024?

Venice is implementing new policies, restrictions, and tax schemes to combat overtourism, day trippers, and unsustainable tourism development. These restrictions are a dire attempt to protect its cultural and natural heritage, maintain UNESCO status, and set the groundwork for a healthier tourism model in Venice that benefits locals and tourists. 

For the 2024 tourist season, Venice is focusing on two main issues. 

Tourist Tax and Registration for Day Trippers

Anyone visiting on 29 specific days during particularly busy periods (mostly weekends and holidays) between the hours of 8:30 and 16:00 is subject to a new €5 tourist tax. This tax is called the Venice Access Fee. City officials hope this will encourage people to visit during less busy periods.

Brugnaro and city officials have said this isn’t about making money but about disincentivizing people to come during peak times. 

The local authority said, “The objective is to discourage daily tourism in certain periods, in line with the fragility and uniqueness of the city.”

St. Mark's Square in Venice overlooking the lagoon

However, it is no secret that sustainable tourism management costs money. As Venice grapples with the impacts of over-tourism, these funds could help support initiatives like gates to keep rising sea levels out of Venice and waste management. 

There are a few exemptions for those looking to avoid paying this fee on these set days, including those visiting in the evenings for dinner or shows, staying overnight in a hotel, anyone under 14, those with an EU disability card, and more. With a few exceptions, you must request an exemption ahead of time.

Registration 

While only those visiting during certain peak times are subject to the fee, everyone visiting these days must register under a new system. With this registration, you will pay the fee or apply for an exemption. Once you register, you will receive a QR code signaling you’ve paid or been approved for an exemption.

Scan this code at entry gates around the Venice Ancient City. If you do not have a QR code, you will asked to complete the registration and pay the fee (if applicable) upon entry. 

You could be fined up to 300€ for failing to follow these guidelines.

Is this the same as Italy’s tourist tax?

No, but kind of…. Italy’s tourist tax, which you might be familiar with, is often applied to hotel bills as part of a nightly tourist tax. But, the existing tax doesn’t apply to those who don’t overnight, even though they are better for the economy and sustainable tourism. This new access fee specifically targets day trippers, but it is sort of their equivalent to the existing tax,

Why target day trippers?

Nearly 75% of the people who visit Venice only stay for a day or half a day. Yet, they contribute only 18% to the tourism economy in a serious case of tourism economic leakage. To compare, those who stay at least one night contribute 50%.

Not only do those who stay longer contribute to a more robust economy, but studies show that the longer someone stays at a destination, the negative impacts of tourism are diminished. Spending more time diffuses mass tourism, allows you to engage in more meaningful travel, connect with the place, spend money more equitably, and put less stress on resources. 

Finally, many day trippers come on cruise ships. These large ships require dredging, killing animal and plant life in the area. Water displacement from these ships erodes historical foundations, some of which have been around for thousands of years. They also emit pollution, such as sulfur, which has health implications. Large ships also contribute to low-quality mass tourism, dropping thousands of people off for a short period, delivering few positive benefits.

How to Register, Pay, and Request an Exemption

Visit the official website for the Venice Access Fee to learn more, including information on what days this new tax applies, register, apply for an exemption, and pay your fee (if applicable) to get your QR code.

How do local residents feel about this?

Update after day 1: While these new policies sound great on paper, and as a sustainable tourism expert, I agree that something must be done to manage tourism in Venice; not everyone is on board. The Guardian reported that the first day of implementing these policies was chaotic. In news that should surprise no one- tourists and visitors to Venice were caught off guard and unprepared for the access fee.

Locals, however, had very mixed feelings. Some felt strongly enough to take to the streets to protest the new policies. Why? Many think that charging people a fee to enter the city contributes to the feeling that Venice is a theme park. Others felt it wasn’t doing enough to address what they think the real issue is: Airbnb and transient rentals driving up the cost of housing and diminishing housing availability.

Yet, despite this opposition, many residents agree with the policies. Some hope it will help them understand tourist trends and behaviors. Ecotourism expert Megan Epler-Wood and I discuss some of these things in a LinkedIn post. Especially since this data collection is a key part of addressing Venice’s over-tourism issue and that the situation in Venice is so dire that it calls for potentially dire measures.

Policies like these aren’t going to appeal to everyone, but it is important to listen to resident stakeholders. It is hard to tell if they just need time to adjust and cope with the policies or if the mayor needs to listen to the protestors and change the policies in line with their expectations. Only time will tell.

Restrictions on Group Tours and Noise

Another initiative, aimed at reducing tour group size and noise levels, starts on June 1st. This municipal resolution caps tour group size at 25 people, or half the capacity of a standard tour bus. It also includes a ban on loudspeakers or megaphones often used by tour guides to shout to their large groups. 

The policies implemented here primarily concern tour guides and operators, but this is a win for travelers and the general public. 

Why target large groups?

It is easy to forget that actual citizens live in the Ancient City of Venice; these people have lives where they must walk the streets, go to the store, and take naps in their apartments. Large, noisy crowds are disruptive to their daily life. Imagine if you were trying to go to the store and ran into a 50-person tour group taking over your street.

Studies show that larger tour groups have a greater impact on the natural environment, and mass overtourism decreases natural and cultural integrity in sensitive areas. Reducing tour group size makes managing people in groups easier. Smaller groups also foster more meaningful connections between visitors and the host community. You are more likely to get a more meaningful experience from a small group tour and take more action to engage in sustainable travel behaviors. 

Will this make a difference?

A lot of conflicting chatter is circulating about whether these policies will make a difference.

As an expert on sustainable travel, I can see the intention behind these policies and think they are a good and necessary starting point. Still, I am skeptical about whether they will deliver the intended results.

Reducing group sizes can make a big difference, and I love this initiative. It will allow those on group tours to have a more meaningful and educational experience and may even incentivize large tour buses and maybe even mega cruise ships. Venice could enhance this policy and require small groups to be led by local certified guides, but it is a start.  

venice canal lined with historic buildings

However, the Access Fee is a little less impactful. Many destinations use tourist tax schemes to help support sustainable tourism development, including Tofino, Canada, cruise ports in Alaska, Barcelona, and others. It can be a great way to raise funds to develop waste management, infrastructure, and facilities tourists and locals rely on. However, it is unlikely a 5€ fee would prevent anyone coming on the trip of a lifetime to Venice during peak travel days if that was their only time to travel and it was their dream destination.

At the very least, it might be a good starting point for educating people on the impacts of overtourism and may encourage people not visiting on a cruise to stay overnight. Venice needs to take action or risk losing its UNESCO status and the very environment that makes Venice so special, so I do hope to see more policies and incentives for sustainable tourism in Venice.  

I would love to see more educational elements for visitors to learn about their impacts – local guides, tourism pledges, policies to regulate multi-national tour operators, and positive incentives to stay overnight or work with local guides could be much more effective. 

Dorsoduro Venice street view with church

Venice has said this is their trial summer, and they may introduce surge pricing in the future. Surge pricing could deter people from visiting during peak times, but it would make budget planning challenging.  

How to Visit Venice Responsibly and Sustainably

Sustainable travel in Venice starts with us. I didn’t think I would ever visit Venice. As a sustainable traveler and expert, I wasn’t sure I could do so without contributing to an unsolvable problem or fighting with millions of tourists in crowded streets. 

However, when the opportunity to visit arose during a longer campervan road trip through central and Northern Italy, I decided to take the time to curate a slow, sustainable, and mindful itinerary. We stayed three nights and four days in Venice, hired a private local guide, and committed to sustainable tourism. I am so fortunate to have experienced the Ancient City of Venice in such an intimate and meaningful way. I have curated my tips and itinerary for you to help slow down and appreciate authentic Venice. 

The most meaningful things you can do as a traveler are to slow down, stay longer, ditch the cruise ship, avoid AirBnb, support local guides, and uplift cultural and natural heritage.  Read my detailed guides for responsible travel in Venice and UNESCO sites. 

Discuss and Share

Ready or not, Venice’s new policies will start in April 2024 to foster more sustainable travel and community well-being for its residents. The policies include a new Venice Access Fee for day-trippers, a registration system, and limits on tour group sizes. Are you planning on visiting Venice this year? If you do make sure you visit responsibly by staying longer, hiring local guides, and respect local culture.

  • What do you think of this new tourist access fee, registration process, and tour group capacity limits? Would you be willing to pay the fee?
  • Would this deter you from visiting on a very popular day?
  • Do you think this will work?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

If anything, this warned me of the peak travel days and would remind me to travel on any day other than that day!

Venice new tourist fee everything you need to know
New Tourist Tax starting in venice for 2024 everything you need to know