Gian Marco Centinaio says plan to charge visitors up to €10 is ‘useless and damaging’

The Italian tourism minister has criticised plans by Venice authorities to charge day-trippers to enter the city and oblige people to “reserve access” before coming as “useless and damaging”.

Gian Marco Centinaio, a politician with the far-right League, asked on Twitter: “Do we want to become a tourist-repelling country?”

His comments came after Venice’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, announced that an entry tax would be implemented from 1 May. Each visitor will be charged €3 (£2.65), a cost that will rise to between €6 and €10, depending on the time of year, from 1 January 2020. The charge is expected to be added to the cost of arriving in the city by either train, cruise ship, bus or plane.

Brugnaro said that from 2022 visitors would also have to “reserve access” to the city, but did not explain how the measure would be applied. He added that while people would not be denied access, entering would be “more complicated” for those who failed to reserve a spot.

The initiatives are intended to control tourist numbers in a city that attracts about 30 million visitors a year.

“It’s not about how much we cash in,” Brugnaro, who is also a League member, said. “It’s about managing the tourist flow … we don’t want Venice to become a theme park.”

The arrival charge will not affect those who have booked hotel rooms. Venice visitors already pay a tourist tax if they spend at least one night in the city.

The Italian parliament gave authorities in Venice the go-ahead to implement the charge in late December.

A spokesperson for Centinaio said the minister had always been against such measures, despite the collective backing from the government. “He didn’t raise his hand but he has always had the same line regarding Venice, that he is against any type of measure that ‘blocks’, such as a tax or gates.”

Brugnaro described the approach as “soft”, adding that it was a way to “show the world that Venice is a ‘slow’ city and must be respected”. He previously said money collected from the charge would help fund the cleaning up of rubbish that day-trippers leave behind and be invested in programmes that “raise decorum”.