Venice is dying. At least, according to Newsweek it is. The population has been shrinking so rapidly (it dropped below 60,000 this year) that the mag predicts there won’t be a single full-time resident in the city by 2030. A city that sees millions of visitors per year, an average of 55,000 per day, won’t be home to a single person. Yeah, I’d call that a dead city.
To draw attention to the issue, residents of Venice have organized a mock funeral in which three gondolas will pull a red coffin through the city’s canals on Saturday, November 14th.
In addition to the flood of tourists who make the city nearly unlivable during summer months, other factors such as increasing home prices and a shrinking tax base, have combined to result in the mass exodus of long-time Venetians.
One of the organizers of the “funeral” says this doesn’t have to be the end though. He hopes that by drawing attention to the issue, some of the problems can be addressed and new citizens will be lured to Venice. “It might be the beginning; it could even spur a rebirth. Now we just have to create a Venice [people] will want to stay in. We have to give them a reason not to leave.”
[via Budget Travel]
There’s no question that Venice is a city overrun with tourists. 20 million people visit the sinking city each year, yet only 60,000 Italians call Venice home. It’s no wonder then that the city starts to feel more like an open-air museum, a well-preserved relic of the past, rather than a living, and lived-in, city.
The residents of Venice put up with a lot (though or course, many of them profit greatly from the massive tourism industry too), and many are fed up with the overwhelming crush of tourists that descend on the town each year. And they aren’t above fighting back. Last year, the city created a (short-lived) locals-only vaporetto line from the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco. Technically, anyone with a 3-year Carta Venezia pass could ride, but at 40 Euros each, most visitors wouldn’t buy one.
The latest tactic in the battle of locals vs. tourists is to ban day-trippers. Only about 30% of Venice’s annual visitors stay there overnight. The rest stay outside the city, stop by on their way to or from other destinations, or come for the day by cruise ship. The proposal would limit visitors to the city to those people who have a pre-booked hotel reservation.
Enrico Mingardi, the head of public transportation in Venice, is the mastermind of the proposal. He says that Venetians can “no longer tolerate the discomforts” caused by the influx of thousands of tourists each day. He didn’t say exactly how the system would work, what rules would apply to cruise ship visitors, and if those without proof of hotel reservations would be locked out of the city.
Proposals that would limit the number of Venice’s tourists have been brought up before, but always defeated. If the policy does take effect, I have a feeling Venice will feel even more like a historical theme park. What’s next – turnstiles and a ticket window?