Venice to impose a maximum of 25 visitors per group in order to preserve the integrity of its venerable city.

The aim of the movement is to alleviate the pressure caused by the numerous daily visitors to the Italian city and safeguard the local residents.

With the intention of reducing the congestion in its squares, bridges, and narrow pathways caused by the influx of tourists, Venice will impose restrictions on the size of tourist groups starting from June. The city’s recent announcement stated that groups visiting the canal city will be limited to 25 individuals, roughly half the capacity of a typical tourist bus. Additionally, the use of loudspeakers, which are commonly utilized by tour groups and can cause confusion and disruptions, will be prohibited both in the city and on nearby islands.

Elisabetta Pesce, responsible for security in Venice, explained that these policies are aimed at enhancing the movement of groups within the historical center as well as the heavily frequented islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. The decision was made to protect the residents and establish better management of the flow of visitors across the city.

“This is a significant measure targeting the improvement of group management in the historical center and islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello,” said Pesce. “It is about promoting sustainable tourism and ensuring the safety and protection of the city.”

For years, authorities in Venice have been striving to alleviate the strain caused by mass tourism and the overwhelming number of visitors attracted to iconic landmarks such as the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square. In 2022 alone, approximately 3.2 million people stayed overnight in Venice’s historical center, with a total of 30 million tourists visiting each year, the majority of whom only come for a day trip.

Venice, once the hub of a powerful maritime republic, has been recognized as an “extraordinary architectural masterpiece” on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1987. However, UNESCO has repeatedly raised concerns about the impact of tourism on the vulnerable lagoon city and has considered placing Venice on the list of endangered heritage sites.

In order to avoid being listed as endangered, the city has taken steps to reduce the influence of tourism. Firstly, it restricted the entry of large cruise ships through the Giudecca Canal, rerouting them to an industrial port instead of the historical center. In September, Venice introduced a new day-tripper charge as a flagship measure, which will be tested starting from spring. The entrance fee of €5 (£4.30) for day visitors aims to control tourist numbers. The trial period for the fee will be spread across public holidays and weekends during the spring and summer seasons. However, residents, commuters, students, and children under 14 years of age will be exempt from this fee, as well as tourists who stay overnight in the city.

Venetians have organized numerous protests in recent years against a tourism industry that they claim has deteriorated their quality of life, harmed the environment, and driven residents away. On certain days, the current population of just over 49,000, which has significantly decreased from approximately 175,000 in the post-World War II era, is overshadowed by the number of tourists.

Last autumn, it was revealed that the number of beds available to tourists on Venice’s main island exceeded the number of year-round residents for the first time. According to Venessia.com, an activist group, there were 49,693 tourist beds available in hotels and rented vacation homes, surpassing the count of 49,304 inhabitants.

Although visitor numbers declined due to severe flooding in 2019 and the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, high volumes of visitors returned last summer, with an average of 40,000 day-trippers entering the city on peak days.

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