The “Entry Ticket”, the last weapon against too much tourism (which won't work)

Too many tourists. And so comes the entry ticket to Venice, the landing tax in Capri, maxi-Ztl in Florence and tourist taxes increase almost everywhere. So we don't want tourists in the cities of the Bel Paese, but then when the numbers drop (due to the crisis, bad weather or other) is there an immediate alarm? What does “too many tourists” mean? Who are the “too many”? Looking at the data, tourism in Italy is doing really well: in 2023 it recorded an increase of 10%, with over 445 million visitors and a turnover of 84 billion euros. And luxury tourists spent 7.7 billion euros in our country. But, especially the cities of art complain, “we need to save” from the excessive tourist onslaught. So let's see what has been thought and planned so far.

Let's start with tourist taxes. These affect tourists who stay overnight in an accommodation facility. It is a treasure for Italian municipalities, given that in 2023 it exceeded 700 million euros (+13.4% on 2022). The tax, abolished in 1988 for fear of losing tourists in view of the 1990 World Cup, was reinstated and today there are over a thousand municipalities that collect from tourists “sleeping” in the area. Any examples? In 2023 Venice grossed 38 million euros, Florence 71 million, Matera 1.8 million. 36.8% of the total went to municipalities in central Italy in 2023. So the so-called tourist tax does not seem to slow down tourists and brings money into the municipal coffers. And new increases are coming in 2024. In Padua from July tourists will spend from 0.5 to 1.5 euros more depending on the level of the accommodation facility, with additional revenue for 2024 of around 470 thousand euros. New price increases are arriving in Brescia, here too compared to 2 million more tourists in 2023 compared to 2022. In Rome last summer there was an increase (ranging from 3.5 euros for hostels to 10 euros for luxury hotels) and in view of the Jubilee, further increases are expected, up to 2 euros per tourist. Rates have also been revised upwards in recent months in Milan and Naples.

But if there are those who “fight” overtourism by increasing the tourist tax and simultaneously inflating municipal coffers, there are those who have decided to limit daily tourism, which does not suffer the impact of the tourist tax.

The entrance ticket debuts in Venice on April 25th. Hit-and-run tourists will have to pay 5 euros to walk around St. Mark's Square. It is called the entrance fee and is valid from 8.30am to 4pm on 29 dates for 2024. These are the days where the greatest influx of tourists is expected (we leave for the Liberation Day long weekend) and so if you are a daily visitor with over 14 years you will have to pay the fee. It only concerns central Venice, not the smaller islands and there are exemptions (such as people with disabilities, residents of Veneto, students, etc.). You pay on the Municipality website and receive a QR code to show to the inspectors upon entering the city. Fines from 50 to 300 euros for violators. Once the experimental phase is over, from 2025 the rates and number of days involved will be revised. The estimate is that the “access contribution” operation will bring around 5 million euros to the municipal coffers in 2024.

Along the same lines there is Capri, where from the beginning of April until October 31st those who land pay. Tax increased by 50% and thus reaches 5 euros, in the wake of the price increases experienced last summer by Ponza and Ventotene. Florence instead tries with a shield: a maxi-zone with limited traffic. A restricted traffic zone covering an area of ​​38 square kilometers, monitored by cameras.

Even in the rest of the world the overtourism issue exists. In Gion (Kyoto district in Japan) entry into the small private alleys of the neighborhood has been prohibited since this month. In Lisbon, those who disembark from a cruise ship pay 2 euros per person. In Barcelona in recent days the tourist tax has grown by 18%, in Amsterdam by 12.5% ​​and in Tunisia it has gone from 0.90 euros to 3.5 euros. In Galapagos from next August mass tourism will be discouraged with an entrance fee of 185 euros.

The questions remain. Are the “excessive” tourists who should be discouraged only the daily ones? Measures against overtourism help municipal coffers, but do they also really work as a deterrent to mass assault? Is tourism, the driving force of our country's economy, moving towards a search for just one type of visitor, a luxury one?