Venice Is Cracking Down on Overtourism With New Rules for Visitors

In 2024, several new regulations are going into effect for those traveling to Venice, Italy.

A group of people standing in St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy.

Tour group sizes will be limited in Venice, Italy, in 2024.

Photo by Shutterstock

Imagine a summer in Venice where you’re not overwhelmed by an onslaught of mega-tour groups clogging the city as they traverse from one tiny calle to another. That’s the idea behind Venice’s new tour group size limit, which was approved by the Venice City Council this past December in an effort to strike (yet another) blow to the rampant overtourism congesting the city.

Starting June 1, guided groups touring the historic center of Venice, as well as the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, will be limited to a maximum of 25 persons. The number is approximately half the capacity of a standard tour bus (which typically accommodates up to 50 passengers) and targets the tour programs that bring a high head count, whether by land or by sea via cruise ship.

The ruling does not clarify whether the limit applies only to walking groups actively touring or to the full size of a group staying in Venice, for instance. The rule aims to hedge pedestrian traffic on Venice’s small streets and most heavily visited areas such as Piazza San Marco and Murano’s Via del Giudecca. It also aims to reduce noise pollution by banning the use of portable loudspeakers, which means tour leaders will rely on their own voices or will need to use whisper radio sets, portable microphones and headsets connected via radio frequency that many guides already use.

Venice security councilor Elisabetta Pesce called the new rule “an important measure aimed at improving the management of groups . . . promoting sustainable tourism and guaranteeing the protection and safety of the city.”

As tourism numbers reach all-time highs, the Venice experience has been described as less pleasant than in past years—last year, a little more than 11.3 million passengers flew into or out of the Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE), an increase of 22 percent compared to 2022.

The city council feels that reducing physical and audio congestion will be integral to creating a better experience for visitors, as well as augmenting a better quality of life for residents, students, and workers and preserving Venice’s fragile infrastructure. For decades, Venice and its surrounding lagoon have been at risk due to rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions that cause aqua alta (high water) and lagoon flooding that is slowly eroding the islands, building foundations, and architecture.

Pedestrian congestion only adds insult to injury, so within the framework are goals to monitor tourist flows to assist in future proposals. Some of the effects of overtourism include more pollution, resource depletion, stressed waste management systems, strained water supply, and improper drainage. Plus, the increasing numbers in tourists mean more water taxis and vaporetti, further clogging the lagoon, which has detrimental impacts on the environment.

Small boats cruising along the Grand Canal in Venice

All day visitors to Venice, Italy, will need to pay an entry fee on certain dates in 2024.

Courtesy of Dan Novac/Unsplash

Venice has a new entry fee

Over the past year, the Venice City Council has made decisive moves to combat the overtourism that pervades the city. In September 2023, the city council confirmed the launch of the Venice Access Fee, a pay-to-enter charge specifically targeted at day visitors. Implementation of the fee was a big move for the city council, following several years of debate around the topic. The fee will finally go into effect on April 25, during the historic Festa di San Marco, honoring Venice’s patron saint, Saint Mark.

“I apologize, but the ticket is necessary: The objective is not to close the city, but not let it explode,” said Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro in a February 2 press conference. “The objective is to decongest the city, not to have more money. We need it to tell us what rules must be respected in Venice, a fragile city different from all the others.”

For those planning on visiting La Serenissima this year, the Venice Access Fee will be trial tested for a selected 29 days in the first half of 2024, from April 25 through May 5, and all subsequent Saturdays and Sunday through July 14 (excluding June 1 and 2). Here is the full calendar of dates the fee will be charged.

But don’t expect turnstiles and ticket stands. Instead, day-trippers will register in advance online and purchase the five-euro entry ticket via credit card or PayPal; they will then receive the ticket as a QR code. Tickets must be on your person at all times, and they are supposedly refundable up until 24 hours prior to the ticketing date. (This writer bought a ticket for April 25 and has not been able to figure out how to get the refund—there’s no information in the FAQs section online and no other details about how to obtain a refund on the site.) Children age 14 and younger and visitors with confirmed overnight hotel reservations within the Venice municipality are exempt, but they will still have to register online.

“Venice is a place for all humanity,” Brugnaro underlined. “Whoever visits it must respect it.”

Erica Firpo is a journalist with a passion for art, culture, travel, and lifestyle. She has written and edited more than 20 books, and her travel writing has appeared in Yahoo Travel, Discovery Magazine, BBC Travel, the New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Fathom, Forbes Travel, and Huffington Post.
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