Venice, 'slowly dying of tourism', considers charges for day-trippers
Every year, the acqua alta floods the streets of Venice – a phenomenon caused by high tides and a warm scirocco wind blowing across the Mediterranean.
At a similar frequency, Italian government officials spout hot air about Venice’s tourism problem – prompting a flood of discussion across social media.
This week, the proposal came from Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro, who made curbing tourist numbers in the city a priority when he was elected in 2015.
In an interview with the city's Corriere del Veneto newspaper, he made the case for charging day-trippers entry into the floating city.
“The solution is obvious: those who live, work or have a place to sleep in the city can enter, the others must stay away,” he said.
“The mayor must have power to close the city off on crowded days,” he argued. “Several ideas have been proposed to the government, we now hope they decide to help Venice.”
The statement comes after a busy Easter weekend, during which two Swiss tourists were reported to have been seen dancing naked at a fountain near Rialto Bridge.
More than 125,000 visitors visited Venice on Easter Sunday and just under 100,000 on Easter Monday.
This isn’t the first time someone has suggested charging entry into the city. In 2014, Italy’s undersecretary of culture, Ilaria Borletti, said: "Venice is slowly dying of tourism, suffocated by summer tourists who eat and run, leaving little or nothing to the city.
"For this reason I think we have to protect this city. We should think seriously about the introduction of an entry ticket."
Alternative measures have been proposed. Last year, Venice’s councillor for urban planning, Massimiliano De Martin, mooted a plan to prevent new holiday accommodation from opening up in the city centre.
A handful of proposals to curb mass tourism have materialised, including a “locals first” policy for its water buses. Government officials also announced last year that large cruise liners will be diverted away from the World Heritage City and dock at a terminal in the industrial port of Marghera on the mainland.
Last year city authorities launched its #EnjoyRespectVenezia campaign, which – among instructions such as to not set up camp or ride a bike through the city centre – said that tourists were “forbidden from standing without motivation”.
In 2016 tempers flared in Venice when protesters took to the water in boats to prevent cruise ships from passing through the lagoon.
Relations between residents and visitors reached a nadir.