Americans won’t have to buy tickets to enter Venice, for now

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Hard hit by overtourism, the Italian port of Venice infamously decided to introduce a visitor ticketing system in recent years in hopes of mitigating the impacts of crowds. Originally due to go into effect on January 16, it has now been delayed, which means Americans will not have to buy a ticket to enter the city for now.

Gondola pictured before the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy

Venice is one of several cities in Europe that are stepping up their efforts to combat mass tourism. While Mexico, the Dominican Republic and similar countries seek to capitalize on the ongoing travel frenzy as much as possible and have actively promoted themselves as tourist destinations, the Old Continent is going in the opposite direction.

Moving on from Covid, Europe does not want to return to the hectic days before the pandemicand the Venice entrance fee is a strong indication of that:

Americans will not have to pay a fee to enter Venice starting in January

Saint Mark's Square in Venice, Italy

In exciting news for travelers wary of red tape, the city of Venice has again delayed plans to introduce a fee for tourists, discarding the previous release date of January 16, 2023. The new system, intended to turn Venice into a literal open-air museum that requires reservations months in advance, has been described as “the first of its kind in the world.”

The implementation was never going to be easy, since it applies to an entire city, one of the most important in Italy, and not to a well-closed archaeological site or park. It goes without saying that encircling Venice with sea walls as in medieval times has has never been a plausible alternativeeven for hardline anti-tourism Venetians.

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Gondola in a narrow canal lined with colorful houses in Venice, Italy

As reported by Forbes, local authorities have been scrambling to enact the changes “as deal with logistics‘, though no further details were released at this time. In a way, this reminds us of the comings and goings of Europe with its future ETIAS requirement, a mandatory online travel authorization that applies to Americans and will apply from November 2023.

The ETIAS, along with its associated entry and exit system, is a multi-billion dollar project that has proven difficult to bring to fruition, despite being years in the making, and Venice’s own ticketing system is no exception. It is about something more than the simple creation of a web page for the collection of a tourist tax: this will dramatically change tourism in Venice for future generations.

How will the ticketing system work?

Happy travelers couple riding in a gondola in Venice, Italy

Currently, the only thing tourists have to carefully monitor when traveling to the Floating City is room availability. They are allowed to come and go as they please, even as day trippers, but finding reasonably affordable accommodation at the last minute can be next to impossible. This is particularly true in the peak of summer, although Venice is still busy all year.

The record year of 2019 saw the arrival of some 36 million foreigners in Venice, a city of about 270,000 inhabitants. For comparison, that’s exactly the same number of tourists the country of Mexico has received for all of 2022. Looking at it from this angle, we can’t even get mad at the Venetians for wanting to close their doors: if only a little.

Crowd of tourists crossing bridge in Venice, Italy, Overtourism

Once the ticketing system is formalized, visitors to the historic center of Venice, which comprises all the main medieval canals and points of interest, such as the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace, will need to book your visit. possibly months in advance to avoid getting stuck in the middle of overwhelming demand.

If you are a day traveler, a single ticket will cost €3, though it can go up to €10 in ‘particularly busy periods’. On the other hand, those who spend the night in the city will be exempt from paying the tax since their ‘tourist tax’ will be collected by their accommodation provider, but not from booking a visit through the official online portal.

Chioggia glimpse from the arcades.

Tickets are valid for Venice itself and any of the islands and municipalities in the Venetian lagoon, including the colorful towns of Murano Y burano. Those traveling to see family or staying at a friend’s house will obviously not be charged for the duration of their staybut it will be subject to the reservation process, as confirmed by Forbes.

Tickets will be issued in the form of a QR code, which will be checked on arrival at one of the city’s entry points by ‘ticket controllers’. At this time, we could not find information on penalties for non-compliance, but we assume that day-trippers who do not stay overnight without a paid reservation will not be able to access the historic center.

What is the new release date?

Crowd in front of the Doge's Palace, Venice, Italy

So now that January 16 is no longer the release date, when will the ticketing system start to apply? This time, the Venice City Council refrained from offering a final date, suggesting instead that the delay will be ‘at least six months’. This leads us to believe that the system will be fully operational for summer or fall 2023.

Curiously, the ‘little tourist’ Trieste, a town near the Slovenian border, covers transportation costs for Americans visiting a minimum of two nights through May 31, 2023, as long as they arrive from Italy. If you’re feeling discouraged by Venice’s drastic measures, perhaps you should consider exploring the beautiful region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.

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