Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro has announced that the city will be postponing its new tourist tax for a year amid the coronavirus crisis.
The Italian city is perpetually inundated with tourists, and has long battled overtourism, including by introducing a ban on cruise ships.
In a bid to cut down on the number of visitors and make the city “more liveable”, the mayor announced a new entry fee to the city last year.
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It was due to come into force in May 2019, but it was later postponed to 1 July 2020. Now, with Italy suffering under the pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic, the entry fee has been postponed again, to 1 July 2021.
As part of the initiative, day visitors were expected to make a booking to visit the city and to pay a fee to gain entry.
The starting rate was €3 (£2.64) for a quiet day but goes up to €10 (£8.80) for the busiest days.
Overnight visitors are exempt as they pay a separate hotel tax.
But with Italy still on lockdown, and uncertainty over when it might end, Brugnaro has said it would be “ill-timed” to introduce the tax now as the city could risk economic disaster.
He told La Reppublica that tourism is currently at zero and “it will take at least a year to get back on track”.
Venice’s tourism industry has been heavily impacted by a number of events in the last year.
Right now, with coronavirus keeping tourists at home, the city is a “ghost town”.
At the end of last year, Venice suffered its second most severe flood on record.
Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, described a scene of “apocalyptic devastation”.
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