The planned new tourist entry fee has been put off from September 1st to January 1st next year, local officials said on Monday.
The delay was “unavoidable”, according to city councillor Michele Zuin, following months of discussions between city hall and tourism operators.
“Some carriers and operators have initiated disputes appealing the rule, highlighting, among other things, the impossibility of adapting their operating systems consistently by the deadline of 1 September 2019,” he told the La Repubblica newspaper.
Authorities announced the fee, of between 2.5 and 10 euros depending on the season, in December 2018.
Airlines and coach companies would be expected to pass on the new tax in their charges.
A cruise ship and a gondola at the entrance of the Grand Canal. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
When the so-called “landing fee” was inititally announced, authorities said the charge would cover all visitors, whether they are staying overnight or not.
However, city mayor Luigi Brugnaro has since told local media that the charge would apply to day trippers only.
Venice attracts thousands of day trippers in the peak summer months, including large numbers of cruise ship passengers, who escape the existing city tax charged by accommodation providers.
Described in Italian media as “hit and run tourism”, these short-term visitors are accused of contributing little or nothing to the local economy while worsening overcrowding in central areas.
Some 600 cruise ships stop at Venice every year, helping drive complaints that the city is being swamped by the millions of tourists who visit annually.
City officials estimated in December that the proposed new tax could bring in 50 million euros a year, which Brugnaro sais would cover “the cost of cleaning the historic centre and its security,” and would “help us keep Venice clean and allow Venetians to live more comfortably.”
Other recent measures aimed at curbing overtourism in the city have included trialling a turnstile system and suggesting that visitors should book entry to the city in advance.
A demonstration against cruise ships in Venice. Photo: AFP
Meanwhile, Venice may soon be blacklisted by Unesco, which has repeatedly told the city to undertake measures to protect its monuments and its fragile environment.
The most crucial task on the to-do list was to come up with a plan to divert cruise ships from the centre of the city.
The mayor of Venice himself has reportedly begged Unesco to blacklist his city, out of frustration with the national government's refusal to endorse a plan agreed by Italy’s previous administration that would have closed off the canal to the cruise liners and required them to dock further from the centre.
There were fresh protests against cruise ships in the city last month, after a terrifiying incident in which one ship lost control near the harbour and crashed into a tourist boat.