A week after the Venice Biennale opens to thousands of art world VIPs, journalists, curators, and arts workers, the city has launched a fee program aimed at curbing the effects of “excessive tourism” that will require visitors and tourists to pay a €5 (about $5.36) in order to enter the city, the Guardian reports.

The trial program is unprecedented among major cities in the world, and despite Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro’s announcement that the fee will make the city “livable” again, local residents have called the move akin to turning the city into a “theme park.” Some Venetian’s also say that the fee will do nothing to curb the effects of massive tourism, while simultaneously tarnishing the city’s reputation.

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“I can tell you that almost the entire city is against it,” Matteo Secchi, who leads Venessia.com, a residents’ activist group, told the Guardian. “You can’t impose an entrance fee to a city; all they’re doing is transforming it into a theme park. This is a bad image for Venice … I mean, are we joking?”

The fee will be mandatory only for access to Venice’s historic center and will only be in effect for 29 days, mostly weekends, from Thursday April 25 through July 14. Residence, overnight visitors, students, and children under 14 are exempt from the entry fee.

Tickets are purchasable online and random checkpoints have been established across five of the city’s main points of entry, including the train station at Santa Lucia. No ticket? Expect a fine of between €30 and €500. 

According to the Venice council 5,500 people booked a ticket for the April 25, which happens to be an Italian national holiday. Brugnaro denies the plan is merely a money-making scheme, though the city did earn €27,000 on the first day. Should the plan prove successful, the mayor says he would implement a tax cut for residents. 

The 60th Venice Biennale, titled “Strangers Everywhere” and curated by the Brazilian artistic director of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Adriano Pedrosa, officially opened on April 20 and will run through November 24. The last edition of the Biennale, in 2022, drew 880,000 visitors into the city despite Covid-related travel restrictions, a record for the international exhibition.