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Venice protesters clash with police after city introduces tourist tax: ‘We don’t live in a theme park’

Simon Calder’s Travel

Protesters have clashed with police in Venice on the day it became the first city in the world to introduce a payment system for tourists.

The move came into force on Thursday in an effort to thin the crowds that throng its canals.

It has been met with protests from residents saying they didn’t want to live in a theme park. Some confronted police officers during a demonstration in Piazzale Roma.

Signs were set up outside the train station and near an entry footbridge warning visitors they had to pay the new five-euro charge before diving into Venice‘s famous alleyways.

Simone Venturini, the city councillor responsible for tourism and social cohesion, said the scheme would help Venice find “a new balance” between residents and day-trippers, but hundreds of local protesters saw things differently.

“We are against this measure because it will do nothing to stop overtourism,” said resident Cristina Romieri. “Moreover, it is such a complex regulation with so many exceptions that it will also be difficult to enforce it.”

Members of social centers take part in a demonstration in Piazzale Roma against the introduction of an entrance fee to the city for day-trippers, in Venice (EPA)

Giovanni Andrea Martini, a member of an opposition group in the Town Hall who joined the residents’ protests, called it “a sad day because Venice is becoming a museum, a theme park.”

Holding banners reading “No to ticket for Vene-Land” and chanting “Here we live and here we stay”, a few hundred people marched through one of Venice‘s main squares to express their opposition to the new measure.

April 25 is a national holiday in Italy and is the first of 29 days this year when people must buy a ticket if they want to access the lagoon city from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Reservations are meant to be made online but there is also a booth on hand for those who don’t have smartphones.

Although there are no turnstiles at the city gateways, inspectors will be making random checks and issuing fines of between 50 and 300 euros to anyone who has failed to register.


Simon Calder explains:

Any visitor who wishes to be in the historic heart of Venice – anywhere in the city apart from the Piazzale Roma transport access area and the offshore islands – between 8.30am and 4pm on the prescribed dates must register online, in…

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