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Tourists could pay tickets to enter Venice’s famous San Marco Square

Tourists visiting Italy’s iconic city could be forced to buy tickets if they want to enter San Marco Square. Local authorities are looking at new ways of protecting their cultural heritage from the large influx of visitors.

Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world with a reported over 40 million tourists a year and half of them, according to statistics, have visited Venice. And a third of visitors that ended up on the island, have been flocking to the city’s historic center, the San Marco Square. This has taken it toll on the popular sites and buildings.

Locals have repeatedly protested against the large number of tourists and authorities have been warned that unless they will put in place new measures to protect the historic buildings, Venice will be listed as a risk-site by Unesco. According to the local site, Il Gazzettino, local authorities are looking at new measures to protect the city centre and officials have proposed a ticketing system in order to drive numbers down.


The city councilor for tourism, Paola Tues, is cited by reporters as saying that there is a possibility that in the future, the authorities will impose a system that will require tourists to book tickets in order to enter Piazza San Marco but not all elected officials have agreed with this proposal. Some argue that it will be unjust to tax visitors just for entering what is in fact a public space.

How such system could operate, how much revenue it will bring and what impact will it have on tourism is hard to assess since authorities only have estimates when it comes to the number of tourists that visit the island.

“Big Brother” to track tourists

A first step towards having a better account of how much pressure there is on the touristic infrastructure of Venice has been made by the local authorities by green-lighting a project that will allow tourists to be tracked with the help of movable gates. These will be placed at entrance points on the island and will identify the number of tourists.

Together with free wi-fi and a real time update app that will show visitors the most crowded areas, the officials hope to have hard numbers when it comes not only to the number of tourists in general but also a break-down of visitors by sites.

The data will allow authorities to make a comprehensible plan of how to better protect sites and they hope it will also draw traffic down form some of the most popular places like the San Marco square and the Doges Palace.

The new “Big Brother” system, according to Italian journalists, could also help promote lesser known sites on the island.

Last year, authorities took into consideration the proposal of imposing a cap on the number of tourists that are allowed on to the island. A similar stance was taken into account in other sites across Italy, most notably at Pompeii.


Other proposals taken into account are the closing down of the square during certain days, certain hour intervals or when it gets overcrowded.

Sylvia Jacob