Venice to Limit Large Tour Groups to Curb Overcrowding

| Wed, 01/03/2024 - 15:30
People squeeze down a narrow street in Venice

The city of Venice has announced that it will begin limiting the size of tourist groups in an effort to reduce the impact of overcrowding that’s plagued the watery city for decades. 

Beginning in June of 2024, groups of more than 25 people — approximately half the capacity of a standard tour bus — will be prohibited from entering the historic center, as well as the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. The directive will also ban the use of loudspeakers by tour guides in the historic center, which is said to create “noise pollution” and further contribute to the chaos and confusion millions of visitors bring to Venice’s calli (narrow pedestrian streets) each year. 

In a statement, Elisabetta Pesce, the local councilor for security, said that these policies are aimed at regulating crowds and improving the flow of people, while also encouraging longer stays. 

In 2022, only 3.2 million visitors to Venice (whose nickname La Serenissima or “Most Serene” now seems ironic) stayed overnight. But the city gets an average of around 30 million visitors per year.

Pesce emphasized that the decision to restrict large groups was ultimately made to protect the needs of residents who struggle with untenable conditions such as gondola traffic jams, tons of garbage and badly behaved tourists. The most recent incident, which was captured on video, involved a group of tourists who capsized a gondola near St. Mark’s Square while attempting to snap a selfie. 

Until now, the canal city has managed to avoid being placed on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites in danger by prohibiting the arrival of large cruise ships into the Giudecca Canal. It has also agreed to roll out a trial “day-tripper entrance fee” of €5 ($5.50) that will be assessed during peak travel season (between April and mid-July) in an effort to further ease pressure caused by the throngs of visitors. 

The 30-day prova (test run) will charge admission into the historic center on weekends and public holidays. Residents, commuters, students and children under the age of 14 will be exempt, as will tourists who have booked overnight stays in the city.