Shortly after announcing a fee for day visitors, Venice has escaped a UNESCO designation as an “endangered” world heritage site. The World Heritage Committee, currently meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has decided not to add Venice to the list of world heritage in danger, UNESCO said on Thursday. However, the experts involved with Venice had previously recommended this and accused the city of “inadequate protective measures” with a view to mass tourism.

In view of the impending decision, the city council of the Italian lagoon city gave the green light on Tuesday for an entrance fee of five euros for the historic center. The test measure planned for spring 2024 is intended to limit the number of visitors to the world heritage city.

The fee should be charged on a maximum of 30 days a year, when particularly large numbers of visitors traditionally flock to the city with St. Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge and the numerous canals. The affected days will be announced later. Tourists staying overnight in the city and children under 14 are exempt from the fee.

The opposition had criticized the fee as a hasty concession to UNESCO. She emphasized that the city has not investigated how the fee would actually deter tourists from visiting. In Venice, there has been discussion for years about how to deal with the millions of visitors. Fee plans have been repeatedly postponed due to concerns about the tourism business.

At the end of July, UNESCO recommended classifying the city as an endangered world cultural heritage site. The Italian lagoon city is threatened with “irreversible” damage if the authorities in Italy do not do more to protect it. In 2021, Venice already narrowly avoided being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Danger thanks to a change in its rules for cruise ships that eroded the city’s foundations with their large waves.

UNESCO declared Venice and its lagoons a World Heritage Site in 1987. Founded in the 5th century, the island city is one of the most visited cities in the world, full of architectural treasures and works of art. At peak times, 100,000 tourists stay there per night, plus tens of thousands of day visitors.