Tourists have been flocking to Venice since the days of the early 18th century. According to the Port Authority, Venice had over 36 million international visitors in 2017, nearly a 10% rise over the previous year. Between April to October, an estimated 32,000 cruise ship passengers disembark daily, according to the Port Authority. The National Tourism Agency adds that in August, 465,100 day-trippers add an additional 2.2 million overnight tourists.
While travelers are important for the city’s economy and the creation of thousands of jobs, they are also the primary contributors to a big problem: overcrowding. Venice is famous for winding waterways that echo to the songs of the gondoliers, medieval piazzas, its unique architecture and artworks, and more. Residents do want tourists to enjoy the beauty of their city, but there are many ways that over-tourism has created major concerns.
What are some of the issues with severe over-tourism and why is it a problem?
- Cruise ships have caused significant environmental damage to the city’s lagoons and waterways, and sometimes there have been collisions with other vessels.
- Tourists feed the pigeons at Piazza San Marco, although authorities have restricted the practice.
- Short visits put a strain on the overstretched infrastructure.
- Cheap Airbnb rentals have driven up the costs of accommodations and the living conditions of locals, some of whom have had to decide to leave.
The measures Venice’s local authorities have taken and plans to take to create solutions
- A researcher at the University of Venice, Luca Velo, is among those who study future mass tourism and what impact it will have on the city’s future.
- In November of 2017, Italy’s government put a ban on cruise ships that weigh more than 100,000 tones from entering the area from the Grand Canal, and they have been diverted to the neighboring industrial area of Marghera.
- During the high season, patrolling English-speaking police assistants warn tourists that they could face a fine of up to $585 if they eat or drink in an undesignated area or dip their feet in the canals.
- Turnstiles restrict the movement of visitors in some of the most crowded streets over a long holiday weekend.
- The most controversial step yet is a measure that will come into effect in September. It will require day-trippers to pay an entrance fee into the city of up to $11. Overnight tourists, however, will be exempt as there is a city tax that is already included in hotel rates.
It is also felt that day-trippers benefit from the city services without having to spend much money, and this way they will at least leave a contribution that will lessen the costs that currently fall on the wallets of the citizens. Tourism must be managed not by the closing of the city’s gates and blocking of the city, but by the quality and regulated tourism.