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Venetians clash with riot police over tourism (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Many of the city’s residents are against new admission charge for visitors, introduced to reduce overcrowding

Hundreds of Venetians took to the streets of their sinking city on Thursday in protest against an entrance fee that the local authorities started charging visitors to protect the UNESCO world heritage site from the effects of over-tourism.

The new fee of about $5.50 (€5) is being sought from visitors entering the famous Italian city between 8:30am and 4pm local time and came into force on Thursday as part of a pilot program. Outside of those hours, access is free. Day-trippers failing to pay the fee may face fines of over $300.

Local authorities have erected signs to warn tourists about the new payment, while municipal workers started carrying out random checks at five main arrival points. Overnight visitors are exempt from the charge, but are obliged to obtain a QR code to get through the gates located at the city’s main access points.

The scheme, the aims of which are to reduce crowds at peak hours, to encourage longer visits and to improve the quality of life for residents, has outraged many locals. Several hundred Venetians clashed with riot police over the regulation, with some protesters trying to break through a blockade of officers at Piazzale Roma.

© Global Look Press / Andrea Merola

Demonstrators were holding banners reading “No to ticket, Yes to housing and services for all,” “Venice is not sold, it is defended” and “Venice for all, end the ticket wall,” as well as mock tickets that read “Welcome to Veniceland,” a protest against turning the city into a “theme park.”

© Global Look Press / Andrea Merola

The measure will be “ineffective in containing mass tourism” according to the local branch of Arci, a cultural and social rights association, as cited by the Guardian, but would generate “unequal treatment between different categories of visitors.” Arci’s spokesperson highlighted the “dubious constitutional legitimacy” of the measure, in terms of restricting free movement.

© AFP / Marco Bertorello

Ruggero Tallon, one of the protest organizers and the spokesperson for anti-cruise ship campaign group No Grandi Navi, told CNN that they are campaigning against a closed city that would look like museum.

© AFP / Marco Bertorello

“A ticket does nothing, it doesn’t stop the monoculture of tourism, it doesn’t ease the pressure on Venice, it’s a medieval tax and it’s against freedom of movement,” the activist argued.

April 26, 2024 at 06:57PM

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