Tourists Foot the Bill to Keep Venice Above Water

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Venice's Grand Canal.

A new tax imposed on current tourists will help ensure that future tourists can also enjoy the city.

It’s no secret that Venice is sinking. High tides commonly overtake parts of the so-called City of Water, flooding buildings and squares and eroding walkways. But Mother Nature cannot keep the people away. Tourists flock to Venice for its unique canal culture – the city sees as many as 60,000 tourists a day, according to the Telegraph.

These tourists get to enjoy the attractions of Venice without having to deal with the city’s natural problems. But a new tourist tax seeks to make tourists a part of Venice’s future, as well. The Venice Council announced a new tax to be imposed on all visitors renting hotel rooms in the city. Starting August 24th, a €4.50 charge will be added to the bill on all five-star hotel rentals, with guests in less-swanky lodgings paying a reduced rate.

(PHOTOS: Floods Return to Venice)

Does this mean there’s an admission fee to enter the wonderful world of Venice? It certainly seems so, as the charge is per person, per night. Children between 10 and 16 pay half-price, while kids under 10 stay free. Charging visitors on their hotel bills was, according to the Venice Council, preferable to collecting a fee at train or airport entry points. The tax will be levied on visitors primarily during Venice’s high season, which spans the summer months, and includes holidays like Christmas and Easter.

The tax will help fund essential city maintenance as the city tries to keep the waters at bay. Their latest effort is an electronic floodgate system called the MOSE Project (think Moses, he who parted the sea). But until its 2014 completion, visitors will be contributing to the pot to save Venice. Let’s just hope the tax doesn’t scare them away.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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