Venice is unfair to tourists

By | Category: Travel rumblings
one of the water buses costs €7 for visitors

one of the water buses costs €7 for visitors

So claims an un-named complainant as reported in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday. The paper was reporting a story in the Italian, La Stampa which seems to have interviewed this person who has become so aggrieved that he has claimed unfair discrimination and that Venice is in breach of the EU equality regulations.

What is behind this complaint is the two- tier pricing that applies in the city. Tourists pay much higher prices to enter museums, use the water bus (vaporetti) system and even the toilets. He has calculated that a family of four sightseeing would pay about €136 per day. A local would pay just €12.40 to do the same things.

Has he a case? Many Venetians agree that the discriminatory pricing should exist as locals have to put up with hordes of tourists throughout the year. It isn’t uncommon in some places to get benefits so, for example, I have free entry into the castle within my village because I am a resident. In Australia, it is not uncommon for residents not to have to pay parking charges if they display a local resident’s pass issued by the council.

I confess to being in two minds about this but Venice is a victim of its own success. They need the revenue in order to preserve a city that suffers from floods and decay. Without this money, Venice might have become a ghost city after the floods over the centuries. Locals would probably have moved to the mainland. But tourists bring pressures on local services and just millions walking can damage pathways.  For venice certainly couldn’t have funded maintenance on its own. Recent history has shown that local councillors have also been on the take when contracts are awarded to preserve the city so why should I sympathise with its residents when they clearly cannot manage the city themselves.

Yet shouldn’t locals be entitled to some benefits?  Why shouldn’t tourism revenue benefit individuals rather than just the city politic? We go for a few days and maybe take a half-dozen vaporetti rides; they have to use them nearly every day.

The issue may well be whether the benefits locals get is out of kilter with what is reasonable. If a vaporetto ride is €7 and locals pay €1.50; is a trip to toilet for us is €1.50 and for a resident a sixth of that, is the gap too wide?

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