Web Stories Thursday, May 23

Among the thousands of people lining up at the station for a ticket Thursday was Donna Porter-Mutchler, a tourist from Tennessee, who told NBC News she thought the charge was “a wonderful idea.”  

“Venice deserves to be taken care of,” said Mutchler. “I think it’s more than worth it. I come here often and I’ll pay every time.” 

While there will be no limits on the number of people who can register, officials are hoping the fee will put people off on days that it applies. 

“We are not looking to collect money, tax people or introduce a police state,” Simone Venturini, Venice’s tourism councilor, told NBC News. “We are being democratic about it, but the important message is: ‘please, if you are a day-tripper, choose another day.’”

While there are no turnstiles at the city’s entrance points to make sure people have a pass, inspectors will be making random checks and issuing fines of between 50 and 300 euros to anyone who has failed to register.

Prominent signs across the city and a TV and newspaper advertising campaign has been launched in Italy and some other countries to let people know about it. And with the help of artificial intelligence, Venice’s Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has also recorded a video message in several languages to inform tourists about the charge.  

Officials in the city estimate an average of about 50,000 people a day visit Venice, an influx which almost matches the resident population of the city, some of whom are unhappy about the new charge.  

“Venice has turned into Disneyland, where tourists are catered more than residents, and charging $5 is not going to stop anyone,” Federica Toninello of the Social Assembly for Housing and the Solidarity Network for Housing in Venice, said Thursday. “It’s just propaganda.”

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