Overcrowded Venice Introduces 1st Payment Charge for Tourists

FILE PHOTO: A web app to pay the entrance fee for Venice is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken in the control room where monitors are used to check the number of tourists entering and leaving the city in Venice, Italy January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/Illustration/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A web app to pay the entrance fee for Venice is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken in the control room where monitors are used to check the number of tourists entering and leaving the city in Venice, Italy January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/Illustration/File Photo
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Overcrowded Venice Introduces 1st Payment Charge for Tourists

FILE PHOTO: A web app to pay the entrance fee for Venice is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken in the control room where monitors are used to check the number of tourists entering and leaving the city in Venice, Italy January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/Illustration/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A web app to pay the entrance fee for Venice is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken in the control room where monitors are used to check the number of tourists entering and leaving the city in Venice, Italy January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/Illustration/File Photo

Venice became the first city in the world on Thursday to introduce a payment system for tourists in an effort to thin the crowds that throng the canals during the peak holiday season.
Signs warning day-trippers about the new 5-euro ($5.35) charge were set up outside the train station and near an entry footbridge, telling visitors they had to pay before diving into Venice's narrow alleyways.
April 25 is a national holiday in Italy and is the first of 29 days this year when people must buy a ticket if they want to access the lagoon city from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Reservations are meant to be made online but there is also a booth on hand for those who don't have smartphones.
Although there are no turnstiles at the city gateways to make sure people have a pass, inspectors will be making random checks and issue fines of between 50 and 300 euros to anyone who has failed to register.
"No one has ever done this before," Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro told reporters earlier this month. "We are not closing the city ... we are just trying to make it livable."
Some 20 million people visited Venice last year, a city official said, with roughly half of them staying overnight in hotels or holiday lets - an influx which dwarfs the resident population currently put at around 49,000.
People with hotel reservations and visitors aged under 14 do not need to pay the entry fee, but still need to register beforehand. Residents, students and workers are exempt.
Venice narrowly escaped being placed on UNESCO's "World Heritage in Danger" list last year partly because the UN body decided that the city was addressing concerns that its delicate ecosystem risked being overwhelmed by mass tourism.
Besides introducing the entry charge, the city has also banned large cruise ships from sailing into the Venetian lagoon and has announced new limits on the size of tourist groups.
"The phenomenon of mass tourism poses a challenge for all Europe's tourist cities," said Simone Venturini, who is responsible for tourism and social cohesion on the city council.
"But being smaller and more fragile, it is even more impacted by this phenomenon and is therefore taking action earlier than others to try to find solutions," he told Reuters.
Ticketing this year is in an experimental phase and Venturini said that in future Venice might start charging more at certain times of the year to look to discourage arrivals.



King Charles to Take Part in Official Birthday Celebrations

FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
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King Charles to Take Part in Official Birthday Celebrations

FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)

King Charles III will take part in his official birthday celebrations in a little over two weeks, as the monarch eases his way back into public duties while continuing to undergo cancer treatment, Buckingham Palace confirmed on Thursday.
The news came amid reports that Prince William’s wife, Kate, will miss a public rehearsal for the event as she, too, receives treatment for cancer. It remains unclear whether the Princess of Wales will attend the main ceremony, known as Trooping the Color, on June 15, Britain's Press Association reported.
Kate has revealed few details about her illness or treatment since announcing her cancer diagnosis on March 22.
Charles had been returning to public duties before Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week called a snap election. That forced the king to postpone engagements that might divert attention from the campaign, raising questions about whether he would attend the birthday celebration.
Trooping the Color is a 460-year old tradition in which troops in full dress uniform parade past the king with their ceremonial flag, also known as their “color.”

Charles is likely to travel to the event by carriage with Queen Camilla and is expected to watch the Trooping ceremony seated on a dais, rather than on horseback as he did last year.