LifestyleVenice's fee frenzy catches on: Lake Como eyes tourist tax

Venice's fee frenzy catches on: Lake Como eyes tourist tax

Lake Como from the gardens of Villa Monastero
Lake Como from the gardens of Villa Monastero
Images source: © Adobe Stock | Givaga

6:22 PM EDT, April 22, 2024

Behind us is a historic weekend in Venice - the last one before the introduction of a fee for day-trippers. Although the first day of the new rules is yet to come, another Italian destination, inspired by Venice's move, is considering implementing a similar fee for day visitors.

Last Sunday saw as many as 60,000 tourists flocking to Venice, seizing the last chance to explore the historic center free of charge. The fee, which is about to be introduced, will require those visiting just for a few hours, without staying overnight, to pay 5 euros. The new policy will initially apply to 29 selected dates between April 25 and July 14, primarily weekends.

Lake Como as a paid attraction?

Venice's fees are a groundbreaking approach, and it's clear that other popular tourist destinations are considering adopting similar strategies.

Alessandro Rapinese, the mayor of Como by the famous lake of the same name, is seriously contemplating fees for day visitors.

Lake Como, a tourist magnet in Northern Italy, is home to enchanting Varenna with its quaint streets and tranquil ambiance, the renowned Bellagio, and Villa del Balbianello, a filming site for movies like "Star Wars" and a "Bond" film.

As it becomes increasingly challenging to find a peaceful spot by Como, both residents and tourists are affected. Como, the third-largest lake in Italy, draws up to 1.4 million tourists annually.

This overwhelming number prompts Mayor Rapinese to consider imposing fees. He voiced his frustration over the situation at Lake Como, stating, "Being a mayor is challenging when you have to contend with the impacts of tourism."

"We are already discussing fees. Revolutions begin with decisive action, and we are prepared for this journey," he said in an interview with The Times.

The mayor hasn't provided specific details yet. If he decides on a fee structure similar to Venice's, it would target one-day visitors (excluding those who have booked overnight accommodation) and be enforced only on exceptionally busy days, like weekends and holidays.

Lake Como - day-trippers causing chaos

Post-pandemic, the influx of Sunday tourists to Lake Como has become unmanageable, according to Severino Beri, president of the hoteliers' association in the city of Lecco by Lake Como.

In recent weeks, we have seen long lines for lake ferries and crowds pushing onto train tracks at the Como station.

"Day-trippers do not contribute to profits," Beri criticized. Indeed, they mainly cause considerable disruption and leave behind heaps of garbage. He further noted that the overcrowding might deter longer-staying hotel guests, who provide locals with significant income and employment opportunities.

Lake Como is one of the hits of Italy.
Lake Como is one of the hits of Italy.© Adobe Stock

The renowned Villa del Balbianello responded to "excessive tourism," which substantially affects Lake Como, by reducing its daily maximum visitors from 2,000 to 1,200 last year. The FAI (Italian Fund for Environmental Protection) manages the estate and labeled the move as "drastic" but essential.

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