Venice Reaches Tourism Snapping Point

Tue, 08/02/2011 - 04:35

With the Rialto Bridge in desperate need of repairs, increased flooding, and residents in an uproar over crowds, Venice has reached a breaking point.

Last week, Venetian police announced that the city was officially closed to cars because they had simply run out of room. Bridges were backed up, parking lots were clogged and the extra traffic was wreaking havoc on daily life.

It seems as though the island city has hit full capacity. Venice cannot accommodate more visitors without further risk to its delicate landmarks.

The numbers are simply astounding- the small northern Italian city hosts up to 60,000 tourists a day from April to October during the high season.

Now frantic for new funds, the city of Venice has decided to levy a tourism tax on visitors staying overnight.

Officials had initially toyed with the idea of charging an entrance fee at the train station, airport or cruise terminal. However, the plan that will go into effect on 24 August will only tax overnight guests. A 5 Euro charge per person will be added to hotel bills.

Critics condemn the additional tax is a rash attempt to salvage the city from overuse and destruction that will come as too little too late. Many argue that the current situation could have been avoided if planning and oversight had been a part of the city’s tourism strategy from the beginning.