Is Mass Tourism Damaging Venice?

Is Mass Tourism Damaging Venice?

We have operated out of our offices on Calle Larga S. Marco, just to the north of St. Mark’s Square in the shadow of St, Mark’s Basilica since 1995. Of course, we all recognise that we are extremely lucky to live and work in a city such as ours. Venice is unique. Venice is incredibly beautiful and Venice has a rich history full of intriguing stories and characters, of which, even us Venetians continue to learn more about on a weekly basis.

We have operated out of our offices on Calle Larga S. Marco, just to the north of St. Mark’s Square in the shadow of St, Mark’s Basilica since 1995. Of course, we all recognise that we are extremely lucky to live and work in a city such as ours. Venice is unique. Venice is incredibly beautiful and Venice has a rich history full of intriguing stories and characters, of which, even us Venetians continue to learn more about on a weekly basis.

Venice has been a popular tourist destination for centuries. Between the 17th and 19th Centuries, when predominantly wealthy Europeans would complete their ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe, it was practically compulsory to visit Venice. Today, advances in technology and growing prosperity means travel is no longer considered a luxury but rather a given. Naturally, as a company concerned with tourism we welcome this and are firm believers in the positive outcomes that result from travel.

It might, therefore, seem a little counter-intuitive for an events company involved in Venetian tourism to bring attention to the fact that: although Venice’s popularity brings many benefits to this city and its people, the unrelenting tourism numbers also bring some negative outcomes.

Public Opinion

Earlier this year an unofficial referendum vote saw over 18,000 Venetians (out of a population of 55,000) vote in favour of banning large cruise ships from the Venice lagoon. Large cruise ships are an eyesore and detract from the Venice experience plus, they emit large volumes of fumes and create waves that damage the ancient infrastructure.

Many in this city are dismayed by the continued depopulation. Venice’s population has fallen from around 170,000 in the 1950s to around 55,000 today. Traditional Venetian businesses are suffering as a result, take a look at the number of empty stalls at street markets or the closure of shopfronts in residential neighbourhoods, soon replaced by shops selling trinkets and imported souvenirs.

Respectful Tourism

28 million are expected to pass through Venice in 2017 alone, up from 25 million in 2016. The major issue is that many of these 28 million are day-trippers who don’t bring much to the city. Without meaning to sound disparaging, many of these visitors aren’t overly bothered about learning a great deal about Venice or supporting local businesses.

Many will simply complete the route from the Rialto to St. Mark’s Square, take a picture in front of the Basilica and tick Venice off their to-do list. Of course people are entitled to do as they wish and some may not be willing or in a position to spend their money in Venice however we call for a more measured and respectful approach.

The paradox is this: there are many in Venice who allow themselves to become stressed in regards to tourism, however this city has relied on, and encouraged tourism for many years now. The internationally recognised events that take place here are a celebration of culture and art on the one hand but an invitation to foreign visitors on the other.

Whatever steps are taken in the future, including the possible introduction of a ‘Venice Pass’ (see Cinque Terre Card), we hope that visitors take a more meaningful interest in the Serenissima.

Please contact us for more information on what we do, or for more on Venice, check out this article on What Makes Venice So Unique