Venice and the day-tripper

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Cruise ships dwarf the landscape in Venice. Now passengers may be taxed because they are short stay visitors

The Italian budget includes a clause allowing Venice to introduce an entry fee of up to €10 (just under £9) for short-stay tourists.

The target of the fee is cruise passengers which, the local council and many locals argue, bring people in for the day and yet contribute little in the way of economic benefit to the city.

Forget for the moment the argument that the city is overcrowded ie suffering from tourist pollution. That is a different argument, essentially true but why should cruise passengers or day trippers be penalised over others? Do they really contribute so little as to justify charging them more?

Cruise companies pay to dock in destinations and that is based on any combination of things including the number of passengers they carry. In that context, passengers already pay. But if those passengers come and don’t leave the ship (as some do) should they be taxed? And if they do alight from the ship are they not contributing by going on excursions? If those excursions employ locals as guides there is a contribution to the local economy. But if the guides are not locals -or worse still – cruise ship employees, then the local economy suffers.

What cruise passenger does not buy souvenirs? Does that not assist local commerce? Many will buy snacks for surely they don’t take packed lunches from the ship. They, like anyone else, will have to pay to use the toilets and the fees to enter museums or galleries although admittedly they will probably be a little cheaper at group rates.

Venice railway station, Will officials check everybody entering the city to collecta atx?

The mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, is quoted by the media as saying that the new charge will help to pay to clean the city. If so why not call it a rubbish collection tax and be honest about it.

My other concern is how to tell day-trippers from those who book hotel rooms for a few days or a week. They already pay an accommodation tax that goes to the city coffers so are they to be taxed twice? Do those staying overnight have to show their hotel keys or bookings so they are not taxed again? Where and how will the tax be collected? Will there be tax collectors at the bus station, railway station and car park? That will lead to queues and disgruntled visitors.

How will it be enforced? Will local officials undertake random checks on tourists walking around? At payment time will we all have to wear a little badge to say we have paid? If we live the city to visit something nearby and then return to the city how do we prove we have paid?

I hope the council has considered all these issues because otherwise the plan just seems like another way to dig deeper into tourists’ wallets!

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