Venice — one of the world’s most oversubscribed tourist destinations — could soon get a lot less crowded.
On Saturday, Italian officials announced measures to limit large tourist groups in the historic sinking city, as part of a campaign to curb congestion on the often narrow streets and waterways of the historic hotspot.
“It’s about promoting sustainable tourism and guaranteeing the protection and safety of the city,” Elisabetta Pesce, the local head of security, told the Guardian of the proposed measure.
Per the policy, which would go into effect starting in June, tourist groups would be limited to 25 people — around half the capacity of a double-decker bus.
Meanwhile, the city plans to prohibit loudspeakers — a popular device among tour guides — as they “may cause confusion and disturbance, thereby contributing to noise pollution, the Independent reported.
Venetian counselor for commerce, Sebastiano Costalonga, explained that the measures aim to protect both the residents and facilitate the flow of traffic in the 2.7 square mile Unesco Heritage Site.
“The administration not only wants to give precise rules for respecting the fragility of Venice, the traffic, and coexistence with those who live in Venice,” he declared, “but also give a signal regarding the presence of unauthorized tourist guides, which with this new article will no longer be tolerated.”
The efforts are part of an ongoing campaign to reduce visitation to the City Of Canals, which reportedly absorbs a whopping 30 million people per year, many of whom visit for the day.
Unesco has even mulled adding Venice to its list of heritage sites in danger due to “irreversible damage from the perennial tourist tsunami, among other factors.”
In an effort to mitigate the tide of visitors in September, Venice announced that they’d be charging day-trippers a “tourist tax” of around $5.45 to gain entry to the seaside destination. This policy, which will affect only travelers over 14 who are visiting for the day, will undergo a 30-day trial run starting this Spring.
In 2021, the Italian government banned large ships from entering Venice’s famed harbor, after a large pleasure vessel crashed there two years prior.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the tidal waves of tourists that are eroding away Venice’s foundation.
Like the mythical city of Atlantis, the lagoon city is slowly sinking into the ocean due to rising sea levels fomented by climate change and overdevelopment.