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Grand Canal from the Rialto

Well, it has been nearly two months since i last posted here, for which I can only apologise. This has not been a cruise-y winter; I have been doing other things. But this will change in the New year! Here’s a link to an overview of what I’ll be doing then, and I shall be doing more posts about my plans as the date gets nearer.

But first, Venice. Anyone who’s been either following this blog or just reading cruise news will be aware that over recent years, the authorities in Venice have taken action to limit the number of cruise passengers visiting, through restrictions on both the total number of ships calling at Venice, and their maximum size. (I’ve done quite a number of posts about this over recent years.) The reason for this is that Venetians are feeling swamped by visitors, and for various reasons cruise passengers have aroused especial ire. I suppose I can see why – it’s entirely possibly that a cruise passenger could spend up to ten hours in the city, adding to the crowds and the pressures on it, without actually spending any money there. We were last there in September for a day call on Oceana – you can read about our day here. I have to say that while most of our day was wonderful, the final hour or so ashore was less pleasant as we battled our way past all those d****d tourists in St Mark’s Square. So I’ll agree that the Venetians have a point about the pressures on the city.

Yesterday it was announced that from later this year (2019) there will be a new tourist tax on short-term visitors to the city.
The maximum amount will be €10 a day, but it’s expected (or so they are saying) that that amount will only be levied in mid-summer; at other times it might be as low as €2.50. I gather that this will also replace a short-stay hotel tax which last year raised €34m for the city.

The tax will theoretically be levied on all short-term visitors, but it’s hard to see how it could be collected from independent travellers not staying at hotels in the city – e.g. those arriving at the airport but staying outside the city, or those staying elsewhere (e.g. Verona, Milan, etc) who visit Venice for a day and arrive by train. The new tax is effectively only going to be paid by those who either arrive as a group – e.g. cruise passengers – or those who are staying in hotels in the city itself.

As I said above, I do think that the Venetian authorities have a point about the number of visitors. It was very busy when we were in the centre of the city, and that was late September (though admittedly it was a Sunday). In the height of summer it must be even worse. I don’t think the tax will put visitors off, but it should at least help the city authorities pay for the civic services and amenities that they have to provide.

What did we do when we visited, I hear you ask? Well, I think we spent around €75. There were two day tickets for the vaporettos, entry to the Basilica at Torcello, a couple of pizzas on Burano, a bottle of sparkling mineral water each at a lagoon-side cafe just off St Mark’s Square, and the obligatory fridge magnets at the cruise terminal.

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