It’s great that you nailed that gondola shot for all the Instagram likes, but the locals would like you to know a few things.
Back in 2016, we wrote about how Venice was on the verge of collapse, with the 55 000 residents unable to live alongside the constant influx of daily visitors.
Since then, the number of tourists has only swelled, with CNN reporting that the city received more than 36 million international tourists in 2017, which was a near 10% rise on the previous year.
This has led to massive overcrowding, and locals have had enough:
From April to October, an estimated 32,000 cruise ship passengers disembark here daily, according to the Port Authority. In August, an additional 465,100 day-trippers make their way to the city, adding to the chaos of an additional 2.2 million tourists who will stay overnight, according to recent National Tourism Agency figures.
Many Venetians believe that everyone should have a chance to experience the beauty of their city, but say that a constant swell of tourists is ruining the experience for everyone.
If you saw that recent video of a cruise ship smashing into a dock, you should understand the frustration, and it’s proving too much for many to bear:
Short visits put a strain on the city’s overstretched infrastructure, and cheap Airbnb rentals have driven up the cost of accommodation and living conditions for locals, some of whom have decided to leave altogether.
Tourists have been visiting Venice since the early 18th century and have always been a vital part of the cityscape. But how to keep that sustainable and intact for the future is a big question…
Big questions often require big answers, and local authorities are about to step things up. They announced a ban on cruise ships weighing over 100 000 tonnes from entering from Venice’s Grand Canal back in 2017, and installed turnstiles designed to restrict the movement of visitors in some of the city’s most crowded arteries last year.
Now it’s time for the government’s most controversial move yet:
In September, a new measure requiring day-trippers to pay an entrance fee into the city of up to $11 (€10) will come into effect. Tourists overnighting in Venice will be exempt as a city tax is already included in the hotel rate. Residents, some 30,000 commuters, students and children under six will also not be required to pay.
Simone Venturini, Venice’s deputy mayor and councilor for economic development, tells CNN Travel that the money will go towards costs such as waste and security management…
While the authorities believe the fee will help make the city more sustainable for tourists and locals alike, others say it’s an undemocratic, exclusionary system that also draws parallels to an amusement park.
Still a little less dramatic than some of the steps taken by the Dutch, but charging that entrance fee doesn’t sit well with many.
Others believe that the way forward is to create conditions that encourage locals to stay, with the city’s population declining from around 150 000 in the late 1960s to a mere 53 000 today.
More educated younger locals tend to leave if they don’t wish to work in the tourism sector, which has caused an ageing population.
The impact of Airbnb and other similar businesses has also been very detrimental to many:
Artist Deirdre Kelly, who has lived in the city for 15 years, believes that instead of focusing on a tourist tax, the Venice authority should try to manage Airbnb and other rental schemes.
“It brings tears to my eyes to see these articles that show where all the red dots are,” she says, referring to the Airbnb’s search function which shows prospective travelers available rental options.
“It actually looks like Venice is bleeding to death.”
At the current rate, the local population drops by around 1 000 people a year, which doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the city’s long-term fate.
Maybe we can redirect some of those travellers to our shores. After all, Cape Town is still great in winter.
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