Venice – fresh start or return to overtourism?

Venice – fresh start or return to overtourism?

In Venice, you can see with your own eyes how the city is recovering during the coronavirus pandemic. Now that tens of thousands of tourists are not walking through the historic Old Town every day, cruise ships are not passing by, and even the tourist boats are at a standstill, the water is suddenly clearer than it has been in 60 years. Even dolphins are said by some to have been seen in the lagoon around the city. And the Venetians have also been able to move freely in their city again for years without having to squeeze through crowds of visitors.

At the same time, they realized how dependent they are on tourism. After all, the 20 million or so visitors here spent around 3 billion euros a year – and that in a city whose historic center is home to just 50,000 people.

Now that Italy has relaxed its entry regulations and travelers from EU countries can come so long as they have tested negative, the first tourists are slowly making their way back to the city. But Venice has taken precautions to prevent a mass influx of tourists in the future – or at least to make it more bearable.

With surveillance cameras and the collection of cell phone data, it wants to better manage the flow of tourists. After several delays, the planned tax for day tourists is also to be introduced from 2022. The amount of the tax is to be based on how busy the city is. Those staying overnight in Venice will be exempt from the tax. In this way, the city administration wants to keep guests in the city longer and thus create more sustainable tourism.

Venice takes on cruise ships and Airbnb

One of the main sources of annoyance for Venetians were the cruise ships that sailed into the lagoon and docked just a few meters from the historic center. For many, they have become the symbol of a sick tourism where the goal is to see as much as possible in a short time and then leave. This is to be stopped in the future. In early April, the Italian government decided to ban cruise ships from the lagoon.

They are now to dock about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) away, in the industrial port of Marghera. The construction of a new cruise terminal is already being planned. For critics, however, this does not go far enough. They are calling for a limit on the number of ships allowed to dock in Venice per day, similar to what the Croatian coastal city of Dubrovnik already introduced in 2019.

This is an excerpt from an article by Felix Schlagwein, originally published on Deutsche Welle.

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