Belgian reports Venice over tourist price gap

Belgian reports Venice over tourist price gap
Tourists must pay €18 to visit the Doge's Palace while residents can visit for free. Photo of the Doge’s Palace in Venice: Shutterstock
A Belgian tourist has filed a complaint with the European Commission over the disparity between the prices charged to tourists and residents in Venice.

The unnamed tourist complained that visitors to the city are made to pay exorbitant prices for services such as transport, public bathrooms and even WiFi, while residents pay significantly less – and sometimes even nothing at all.

The complainant used the examples of a family of tourists and a family of Venetians, both comprising of a mother, a father and two children to illustrate the disparities in price.

In one day the two families took a vaporetto waterbus, visited the Doge’s Palace, went twice to the toilet and surfed the internet. By the end of the day the family of tourists had spent a total of €136 and the Venetian family a mere €12. 

In the breakdown of prices it was found that a boat ride costs residents just €1.30, while tourists have to shell out €7. A visit to the world-famous Doge’s Palace is free for citizens and residents in Venice but tourists must pay €18.

Similarly, internet is free for residents, workers and students in the city, while others must pay €5 for 24 hours of use.

Public toilets, meanwhile, are just 25 cents for residents but cost €1.50 for tourists.

“Imagine if Paris, London and Rome did it,” the author of the complaint was quoted as saying by La Stampa.

“European treaties impose freedom of movement and equal treatment of all EU citizens. In 2003, Italy was already condemned over its museums and different prices based on nationality.”

The European Commission (EC) is now investigating the complaint.

Responding to the accusations, Fiorin Franco, director general of Venetian transport services told La Stampa: “For transport we do not distinguish between tourists and residents, but among regular and occasional users. With the ‘Venezia Unica’ card anyone can pay €1.30 for a vaporetto.”

However, the newspaper noted that the card itself costs €10 for residents, €20 for those living in the Veneto region and €50 to others.

Silvio Testa, one of the founders of the conservationist group, No Grandi Navi, which fights the presence of luxury liners infiltrating Venice’s waterways, argued that the difference in price was a way of controlling what he described as the “tsunami” of tourists.

“Tourism is a tsunami that is devouring the city. Official figures count 22 or 25 million visitors a year, and unofficial figures even at 30 million. The double price is a lesser evil, a semblance of care for the 59,000 who insist on living in Venice. Which however has become Disneyland.”

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