Le grand canal de Venise, qui traverse la cité et accueille de nombreuses gondoles et bateaux.
Since August 1st 2021, cruise ships can no longer enter Venice, Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, CC BY

Since the health crisis began, many countries have put in place new measures: Closing certain threatened beaches, limiting the number of tourists, etc. Among them, the city of Venice In italy is an example.

A new era is dawning on the tourism sector. An era that rejects traditional and now controversial mass tourism. Too polluting, not respectful of the places of interest, etc. So many problems that some states have decided to change tack and to set strict limits to protect their tourist sites.

There are many examples, such as the Philippines and the ban on access to certain beaches damaged by tourists. But also Maya Bay in Thailand, where the fauna and flora has been devastated. The site reopened at the end of last year. A place where access is now restricted, which has managed to restore itself during lockdown. But the most glaring example of this revolution is the city of Venice.

The city on the water rebels

Once upon a time, Venice had gondolas. Venice had pigeons. Venice had romance. Now it is Venice and its tourists and rubbish of all kinds. The City of Masks has a major problem with over-visiting. Some 30 million tourists visit the Serenissima every year, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

This is a matter of urgency, as the city was being emptied of its inhabitants before the pandemic. Indeed, there are now about 50,000 people live on the island. Five years ago there were 67,000, according to the media outlet euronews. But with the COVID crisis, city representatives have been taking a new approach.

For instance, private agents were mobilized on site to protect historic places from disrespectful behavior. From now on, you can no longer eat your sandwich sitting on the steps of St. Mark’s Square because the municipality considers that this deteriorates the image of the city. But this will not change things radically. Everything will depend on access to the city.

Notice to tourists: From now on you will need to pay

The measure has been in the pipeline for many years, but with the COVID crisis, everything has accelerated. Soon, visitors will have to pay a reservation fee to enter the city. In concrete terms, gates are being installed at all entry points, and only the lucky owners of a ticket will be able to cross bridges and canals.

Entrance fee: 3 to 10 euros per visitor, depending on the situation and the reason for the person’s visit. The city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, understands the concerns of the tourism industry. In his words: « This is not a ban on visiting. We just don’t want tourists to visit the city all at the same time.« 

The measure will take effect from summer 2022, after being postponed many times by the municipality. Despite some critics comparing Venice to a new Disneyland park, Venetians seem to be in favor of this drastic measure. They themselves recognise that over-visitation is damaging the city. They want to regain control over what they consider to be their city.

For the time being, many efforts have already been made in Venice to protect people and the environment. Indeed, the city has banned the passage of ocean liners on the island. They must now dock on the Mestre side, on the mainland. Unsurprisingly, many residents feel that, the quality of the water in the canals has greatly improved.