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‘An excess of tourism’: Lake Como to introduce daytripper fee to curb visitor numbers

This Italian lakeside city wants to impose a daily visitor fee.
This Italian lakeside city wants to impose a daily visitor fee. Copyright Damian Chojnacki
Copyright Damian Chojnacki
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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This Italian lakeside city wants to impose a daily visitor fee.

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Lake Como is glitzy, glamorous and engulfed by tourism.

The third largest lake in Italy, it sees as many as 1.4 million visitors a year descend on its shores.

The tourist numbers are proving overwhelming for the holiday hotspot in northern Italy, and one city is now considering introducing a tourist tax.

Mayor of the lakeside city of Como Alessandro Rapinese says he is mulling a Venice-style daily charge with suggestions that it could come into force soon.

Lake Como to introduce a daytripper fee

Rapinese has lambasted Lake Como’s overtourism saying it is "difficult to be mayor when you are fighting tourism".

“We are already discussing the idea [of a tourist tax]. Revolutions begin with concrete measures and we are ready for this long journey," he told UK newspaper The Times.

The fee would apply to daily visitors to the city of Como.

The mayor has not shared any further details about how much the fee will be, who will have to pay and when it will come into force.

If he uses the Venice model, the charge will apply to daytrippers (not those who have booked overnight accommodation in the city) and may be levied only on busy days like weekends and public holidays.

Lake Como daytrippers only bring disruption

Like in Venice, 'hit and run' tourism has become the target of campaigns. 

"I don't know what happened after COVID, but we no longer have enough square metres for all the tourists that arrive on a Sunday," Severino Beri, president of the hotel association in the lakeside city of Lecco, told local press. 

Last Sunday, there were reports of straggling queues for the ferries that cross the lake and people pushed onto rail tracks at Como station because of the crowds.

"Daytrippers bring little in terms of income," added Beri. "In fact, all they bring is mountains of rubbish and disruption."

He also said he feared visitors who spend considerably more to stay in hotels - thus providing jobs and incomes for locals - would be put off coming to the area. 

Lake Como battles overtourism

The chic lake has been struggling with soaring tourist numbers for several years.

Crowds have boomed since several celebrities including George Clooney purchased multi-million euro properties along the shoreline and the lake provided a backdrop for films including Casino Royale and House of Gucci.

“I visited Lake Como last year and said I would never go back. Standards had dropped. Restaurants were disappointing in quality and price. Too many people to enjoy anything about the resort,” one visitor wrote on X.

Last summer, one lakeside villa which appeared in James Bond and Star Wars films was forced to limit visitor numbers.

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Villa del Balbianello cut daily entries from 2,000 to a maximum of 1,200 to protect the historic house.

The Italian Fund for the Environment (FAI), which runs the property, called it “a drastic decision” but essential to counter the effect of “an excess of tourism that has an ever greater impact on Lake Como”.

There is also the potential for housing struggles for residents. The number of holiday homes and private rentals has skyrocketed by 673 per cent since 2016.

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