Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

Opinions are mixed on Venice's planned day-trippers tax, which could reach $11, but everyone can agree on one thing: the city is overcrowded.

"You have a very small area, and you have a heck of a lot of people there," said Andrea Grisdale, CEO of destination management company IC Bellagio.

Grisdale said she welcomes the new fee. It will help correct what has been a slightly awkward explanation for clients over the years: tourists staying overnight in Venice have been assessed a tourist tax. But those coming in for the day pay nothing and might not benefit the local economy.

For example, Grisdale pointed to cruisers. Many eat, drink and sleep on their ship, and some may not even spend money within the city.

"Something definitely needs to be done," she said. "I do feel that it will make people think twice about not going as day-trippers to Venice."

Ginny Caragol, executive director of leisure at Valerie Wilson Travel, agreed that Venice needs some relief from overcrowding. But she did question how the day-tripper tax will actually be levied. "I think the whole process is going to be a nightmare," she said.

So what do you do when you have a client who wants to go to such an overcrowded city? Caragol and Grisdale offered some tips.

According to Caragol, Valerie Wilson Travel agents always try to suggest off-peak times to visit Venice, like April, May, June, September and October.

"Those are good months to go," she said. "It's crowded, but it's less crowded."

Regardless of when a client visits Venice, Caragol and Grisdale agree that arranging private transfers to hotels with guides is a good way to start off a client's experience in the city.

Also, there can be big crowd differences based on the time of day in Venice.

"Being out in Venice first thing in the morning at sunrise when there's only a couple of pigeons flying around and local people perhaps going to work, it's incredible," Grisdale said. "It's just a beautiful time to walk around."

She also advocates for getting clients private water taxis during their time in the city.

Caragol advised working with on-the-ground partners in Venice to advise clients when certain activities and attractions are busy and when crowds tend to ebb away.

Buying tickets in advance is always a good idea, she added, as is having clients purchase skip-the-line options if they can afford it.

Valerie Wilson Travel also attempts to schedule itineraries away from holidays and big events that will mean even more overcrowding.


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