Venice Implements Tourist Fee, How It Will Impact Cruise Visitors

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Venice, Italy, has introduced an access fee for day tourists to manage over-tourism on its busiest days. The fee aims to reduce crowds in the historic city and preserve its fragile sites. This also includes visitors coming from cruise ships.

Venice’s New Strategy Against Over-Tourism

Starting April 25, 2024, Venice has implemented an access fee for tourists visiting the city on select high-traffic days, aiming to mitigate over-tourism. This fee applies to all day visitors, including cruise ship passengers, except those exempt, such as local residents, minors under the age of 14, and cruise passengers staying overnight.

Tourists will need to register online and obtain a QR code, paying €5.00. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to encourage visits during less congested periods and ensure the preservation of Venice’s cultural heritage as a World UNESCO site. 

However, there is no cap on the number of people who may access the city each day. Venice has witnessed surges of 30,000 to 40,000 people arriving daily during spring and summer months. The majority of traffic descends upon the main island, Centro Storico, nearly doubling the population of the island, measuring just over one square mile.

“The whole world would like to visit Venice, and this is an honor for us. But not everyone in the world is able to do so on the exact same day,” stated Simone Venturini, the city’s tourism councilor, to CBS News.

Venice has implemented an access fee for day visitors
Venice has implemented an access fee for day visitors (Photo Credit: Oleg Senkov)

The fee will not apply to travelers from late afternoon until the next morning, allowing flexibility for visitors arriving or departing outside peak hours. The fee does, however, affect cruise passengers who arrive for a day on ships calling in the area.

Understanding the Tourist Fee Implications on Cruise Passengers

The Venice Access Fee is operational from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on 29 designated days in 2024. These periods are peak times for ships to call in a port and for passengers to go ashore for excursions.

Passengers arriving between April 25 through May 5; May 11 and 12, 18 and 19, and 25 and 26; June 8 and 9, 15 and 16, 22 and 23, and 29 and 30; and July 6 and 7 and 13 and 14 will have to pay €5.00 per person.

Exemptions are available for cruise passengers embarking or disembarking in Venice who have proof of overnight accommodations, as well as persons with disabilities and their travel companions.

The first cruise scheduled to arrive during the designated days are MSC Cruises’ MSC Sinfonia and MSC Lirica, each weighing just over 65,000 gross tons and calling on April 27.

MSC Lirica in Venice
MSC Lirica in Venice

Sinfonia accommodates 2,646 passengers and 721 crew members, many of whom also go to shore during calls. MSC Lirica houses up to 1,984 passengers and 721 crew. If every person on a sold-out cruise were disembarking for the day, it would result in €23,150 in access fees.

Read Also: Norwegian Cruise Line Ditches Major Port Due to Tender Concerns

The introduction of the fee has been met with mixed reactions, with many arguing it will not significantly deter tourists from arriving in the city. Protestors argue the fee without limitations to the number of visitors will turn Venice into a “theme park.” Residents marched through Venice’s main bus terminal and entryway as the fee was implemented with banners reading, “No to Tickets, Yes to Services and Housing.”

This isn’t the first time Venice has made significant adjustments that have affected cruises. In August 2021, the city imposed a ban that specifically stops ships over 25,000 gross tons, longer than 180 meters, and taller than 35 meters from docking in the historical city center.

This regulation affected a broad group of cruise lines, particularly Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, and Royal Caribbean. The ban redirected the cruise lines’ large vessels to nearby Porto Marghera.

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