An entry fee for Venice has arrived – here are five places that could be next

Venice, Italy
From April 25, tourists must pay a €5 fee to enter Venice - Moment RF/Getty

People who complain of the “Disneyfication” of Venice, avert your eyes. The city has just introduced a €5 (£4.30) fee to enter.

The entry charge was first suggested in 2019, but ended up getting sidelined by the pandemic and later, by procedural hiccups. This morning, however, Sylvain Pellarin became the first person in the world to pay to enter the World Heritage city.

The aim of the fee, which applies to day-trippers aged 14 and over, is to establish “a new balance between the rights of those who live, study or work in Venice and those who visit the city,” according to Simone Venturini, Venice’s tourism councillor.

“No one has ever done this before,” Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, told reporters ahead of the experimental measures being introduced. “We are not closing the city... we are just trying to make it liveable.”

Any visitor who is not staying the night must pay online before entering the city on April 25, which is an Italian national holiday and the first of 29 days this year when visitors are being charged to get in.

Although there are no turnstiles at the city gateways, inspectors will be making random checks and issuing fines of between €50 and €300 (between £43 and £257) to anyone who has failed to register.

Last year, Venice tourism authorities said the fee will not actually turn a profit, but will only cover the cost of administering the scheme. So the funds raised won’t be put towards cleaning up the canals, for example, or restoring the parts of the city degraded by intense footfall. These issues have been raised by Unesco, when it recommended putting Venice on the heritage danger list.

The response to the Venice entry fee has been lukewarm, and somewhat sceptical, among industry insiders. “A €5 fee is not big enough to reduce tourism numbers significantly,” said Justin Francis of Responsible Travel, which lobbies for positive tourist practices. “I’d like to see them be bolder and ensure they do make a profit that can be reinvested in the city for the benefit of residents and visitors.”

Paul Charles of the PC Agency agreed. “Any fee has to be meaningful and make an impact on tourism volumes. Both Bhutan and Rwanda are good examples of countries which have successfully introduced appropriate fees, to not only manage numbers, but also to give back to the local communities through essential health and education projects. €5 is not going to make a difference to anyone.”

Many destinations already charge a tourist tax, typically in the form of a nominal fee added onto a hotel room rate. You will find these in Barcelona, Rome, across Greece, and in dozens of other tourist destinations around the world. Even Manchester introduced a £1 per night tax last year, and Scotland has mooted the idea too. Not many go a step further in charging people for the pleasure of simply entering the destination, although some do.

Bhutan charges tourists a daily “sustainable development fee”, which used to be US$250 (£200) in the high season but was recently reduced to US$100 (£80) or US$50 (£40) for children aged six to 12. That’s in addition to the one-off visa application fee of US$40 (£32). In February, Bali rolled out a one-off US$10 (£8) entry fee, with takings to be pumped back into projects to benefit locals. Another unlikely destination to charge visitors for entry is Clovelly in Devon. The picturesque fishing village, once owned by William the Conqueror, charges £9.50 for adults or £5.50 for children aged seven to 16.

Here are five places that could start charging next:

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Logistically, it would be very easy to introduce an entry fee to the walled city of Dubrovnik, given that it only has three entry points (the main one being Pile gate). The city has suffered under the weight of its own popularity in recent years; its population of just over 41,000 was dwarfed by the 1.5 million tourists who arrived in  2019.

Dubrovnik, Croatia
In 2018, to tackle overtourism, the mayor of Dubrovnik introduced plans to cap the number of cruises that could dock in the city - Alamy

To tackle the issue of overtourism, in 2018 the mayor introduced new plans to cap the number of cruises that could dock in the city to just two. He also reduced the number of souvenir stands in the city by 80 per cent. So, could an entry fee be on the horizon?

Sandra Milovčević, head of communications at Dubrovnik City Tourism, told the Telegraph: “The city of Dubrovnik believes that the entry fee model is not a good solution for Dubrovnik, but rather a proper destination management that has so far produced significant results in practice and had a positive response.”

The Isle of Skye, Scotland

The rugged Hebridean Isle of Skye has boomed in popularity in recent years, and has invested heavily in parking, restoring roads and easing congestion at the most popular spots such as the Fairy Pools after media reports that the island was “full”.

Skye has actually had an entry fee of sorts in recent memory. Just 20 years ago, visitors had to pay £11.40 for a round trip across the bridge connecting the island to the mainland. After significant protests, however, the toll was scrapped at the end of 2004.

scotland, uk
Just 20 years ago, visitors had to pay £11.40 for a round trip across the bridge to Skye, but the toll was scrapped in 2004 - Alamy

Could such a thing ever return? Simon Cousins of the tourist organisation, Skye Connect, said it is managing tourism through other means: “On Skye we are currently utilising technology to manage the visitor experience and reduce congestion in key areas.”

The Isle of Capri, Italy

Given that Venice has introduced an entry fee, logic follows that Italy might introduce a similar measure at some of its other tourist hot spots, like Capri.

The mayor has made noises to suggest it could be considered one day. “We cannot stop tourists from landing here, but we have to regulate the flow of tourism and we will do some tests like in Venice,” the mayor of the island, Gianni De Martino, said in 2018.

Capri, Campania, Italy
Following Venice, it's not unthinkable that Italy might introduce a similar measure at some of its other tourist hot spots, like Capri - Alamy

So is an entry fee on the horizon? A spokesperson for the Italian tourist board told the Telegraph that no decision has been taken on Capri, and indeed there are no plans in the pipeline. But they said that the success of the Venice scheme will influence whether other parts of Italy suffering from overtourism could take similar action.

Hallstatt, Austria

The popular lakeside village of Hallstatt in Austria, which is said to have inspired Disney’s Frozen films, is among the most likely destinations to follow Venice’s lead by imposing a ticketing system.

The suggestion came after locals staged protests last summer due to overcrowding in the village; on some days in high season, the population of 700 was outnumbered by up to 10,000 visitors.

Hallstatt lakeside town in the Alps, Austria
The popular lakeside village of Hallstatt is a likely destination to follow Venice’s lead by imposing a ticketing system - Alamy

“We have really tried a lot in terms of visitor management. But we have reached a point where we’re at the end of our possibilities,” said Mayor Alexander Scheutz.

There are no set details on when such a system will come into force, or how much a ticket will cost, but it appears likely to go ahead after Austria’s tourism minister, Susanne Kraus-Winkler, spoke in favour of a tourist cap in the hot spot.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

British stag groups have been told to “stay away”, the city council has voted to ban cruise ships from docking there, and since 2019 the Netherlands tourist board has stopped actively promoting Amsterdam. Instead, it is trying to disperse visitors to lesser-visited corners such as the province of Zeeland or cities like Groningen.

Europe, Netherlands, Canal in Amsterdam
Amsterdam already bills a tourist tax of seven per cent of a tourist's accommodation rate, plus €3 per person per night - The Image Bank RF/Getty

Based on previous form (there is already a tourist tax of seven per cent of the accommodation rate, plus €3 per person per night), it isn’t unthinkable that Amsterdam might introduce an entry fee for day-trippers in the future. However, how such a thing would be managed is another question.

This article was first published in September 2023 and has been revised and updated.