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As Venice grapples with overtourism, the city tests a 5-euro fee for day-trippers

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Italian city of Venice has introduced a daily fee for visitors as part of an effort to control the crowds of tourists that too often overwhelm the city, especially in the summer months. But as Willem Marx reports, this new charge on arrivals is not proving entirely popular with all the locals.

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WILLEM MARX, BYLINE: Venice is an iconic island city filled with baroque beauty and gliding gondolas, its ancient, narrow streets often crammed with crowds of visitors. Authorities recently barred cruise ships from docking in the lagoon around Venice. Now, this new plan means people arriving for just a day must pay 5 euros, roughly $5, for a ticket valid from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Given the crowds, city officials like Marco Bettini says this new approach has become unavoidable.

MARCO BETTINI: I cannot guarantee a suitable visit to the city if we don't know how many people are coming to Venice.

MARX: Young children and visitors who've booked a hotel will be exempt from the fee, and so will residents, but that doesn't mean all Venetians are happy about this new idea.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER #1: (Speaking Italian).

MARX: One man at this protest rally called it a sad day for Venice, as the new entrance fee turned his city into a museum, a theme park. "And besides," he said, "the police would struggle to enforce the new rules."

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER #2: (Speaking Italian).

MARX: Other residents say the ticket will only really hinder day-trippers, and the new charge will do nothing to combat the mass tourism from around the world that at times overwhelms their city.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in Italian).

MARX: "We live here, and we will stay here," they chant. And it's not just residents and local leaders in Venice working to preserve their community against the impact of tourism. In the stunning Cinque Terre region on the other side of Italy, a famous coastal path now charges visitors who choose to walk it. In Capri, ferry costs are going up, and in Florence, authorities have banned short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb. Italy remains among the most visited countries on Earth, and authorities welcome the impact those visitors have on their economy, but they say they must find the right balance between Italian residents in their hometowns and those from elsewhere who wish to enjoy them.

For NPR News, I'm Willem Marx. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Willem Marx
[Copyright 2024 NPR]