Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Venice tackles tourist busy season with turnstiles, ‘FastPass’ gates on city streets

Posted By on Tue, May 15, 2018 at 7:00 AM

click image IMAGE VIA LUISELLA_ROMEO | TWITTER
  • Image via Luisella_Romeo | Twitter
Venice, Italy has been struggling to deal with the ever-increasing number of tourists for years now, but earlier this month the city moved forward with one of their most extreme measures yet.

With little to no notice to locals or tour operators, the city erected turnstiles at the entrance of two busy streets with plans to turn away visitors who didn’t have a city-issued permit.

The turnstiles quickly caused long lines to access the busiest streets of the city. Those with Venezia Unica Cards, a city permit card most often used by locals and overnight guests, could use separate turnstiles with much shorter lines in a move that’s similar to Disney’s FastPass system.

Residents immediately took to the streets protesting the new crowd control measures, complaining that it causes the city to become like Disneyland, and trying to tear down the turnstiles but the protests were unsuccessful in their attempt to remove the turnstiles.

One of the new gates was installed at the entrance of the Ponte della Costituzione, a bridge that connects Venice to a major bus drop-off area while the other was installed near the city’s train station. Skift, a tourism industry digital news agency, points out that the turnstiles look like an attempt to discourage day guests but hoteliers in the city also expressed on concern on how the new turnstiles might affect their business. Others have expressed concerns over how the turnstiles segregate locals and tourists.

Many took to social media to express their dismay with how the city installed the checkpoints with barely any input from locals or hospitality leaders. One tour operator, See Venice Tours, tweeted out
“It seems it is a joke, but it's real. Without any notice delivered to residents or to tourism operators like tourist guides or hotels #Venice got its turnstiles at the Constitution bridge and Lista di Spagna by the train station. Simply appalling.”

In his announcement for the new turnstiles, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said they were being installed for safety reasons and pointed to the city’s UNESCO World Heritage designation.

The turnstiles are set up to only be used to the busiest times of the year but during the May holiday at the beginning of the month, when every single hotel room in the city was reserved, the foot traffic into the city never rose to the levels required for the checkpoints to go into effect. City officials though were quick not to dismiss the turnstiles, pointing out that they could be used in busy seasons in the future.

With 72 million tourists visiting Orlando last year we might soon be seeing turnstiles along our busiest streets too. But at least for us, most of those 72 million don’t even know downtown Orlando exist.

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