Venice is all set to follow Barcelona’s deliberate discouragement of tourists by bringing in people-counters at the city’s most popular sites.
Initially, the city introduced separate lines for locals and tourists at popular vaporetto stops. For another step towards sustainable tourism, they banned the wheeled suitcases which causes rumblings across the streets.
Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and councillor for tourism Paola Mar proposed the new rule in the city council meeting where the counters will at first merely register the number of people at popular sites. it will share the figures in real time on social media and the city’s website, in the hope of deterring visitors from over-subscribed places such as Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace, rather than capping numbers.
It seems that the final plan is to introduce tickets to the “area marciana” around the city’s most famous square.
In the plan, the council will also bring in new maps highlighting lesser known routes around Venice and also include the lesser known areas in their tourism publicity campaign.
There is no indication so far, as to when the counters will be introduced. However, last year, Unesco gave an ultimatum that is swift action is not taken Venice will make its way onto its black list of at-risk sites.
Free WiFi will also be opened up to all, allowing the council to track and profile visitors in each location. Places like Piazza San Marco suffers from overcrowding and it is obvious that it cannot hold an unlimited number of tourists and should thus be protected.
Venice currently receives 30 million visitors per year, most of whom confine themselves to the most popular sights and routes around the city. Ticketed fees to enter city centres are a new idea for Italy but definitely not for the world.