Tax will help manage costs and provide better services
Citizens and local officials have long complained about crowds swamping the city and the extra costs to the municipality for transport, sanitation and security, along with the price of protecting the delicate Venice Lagoon.
'Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and our municipality have been fighting for more than two years to introduce a "landing contribution" to support the municipality in managing these extra costs while, at the same time, offering tourists better services,’ Michele Zuin, municipal budget councillor, told Seatrade Cruise News.
1.49m cruisers expected to visit in 2019
Some 1.49m cruise passengers are expected to visit Venice in 2019, a fraction of the reported 20m or higher annual tourism count.
CLIA Italy had no comment on the tax, which was authorized under Italy's 2019 national budget law, approved this week.
Around the country, small islands such as Capri, Eolie, Elba and Procida are already applying such a tax, which tourists pay with their ferry ticket. And overnight visitors in Venice are taxed, too, but their numbers pale in comparison to the day-trippers. Besides facilitating the new tax in central Venice, the national budget allows the fee for overnight visitors to go up to as high as €10.
Municipal approval/regulatory framework are pending
The 'landing contribution' will require municipal approval by Feb. 28, the deadline for authorizing municipal budgets and fees in Italy. While the Venice municipality has already approved its 2019 budget, the new national allowance for the tax on day-trippers means the city will be working to write a regulatory framework by then.
This will provide the mechanism for applying the new tax, the rate and excluded categories, which are expected to include local residents, workers and students. 'We will analyze all the cases and find a solution,' Zuin said.
Due to the complexities of collecting such a tax, it may be phased in, but the city intends to start the new fee as soon as possible in 2019.
It hasn't been decided, Zuin added, the rate that will be applied within the maximum €10 allowed. According to the law, transportation providers such as the railways, ferry companies and cruise lines will collect the fee on behalf of the municipality, based on agreements and procedures to be determined.
Continued support for cruising
The phrasing in the national budget law sounds like the new tax is aimed at moderating the big ships' access to Venice. However, the councillor noted the mayor and municipality have repeatedly indicated their support for Stazzione Marittima, provided the big vessels go via the Malamocco Lagoon entrance and the Marghera channels, where a future terminal is planned for bigger, next-generation ships.