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Posted by
38 posts

Honestly...it looks wonderful. Like a dream come true.

Of course, if I had a business there that depended on tourism (as most businesses there do) I'm sure I would have a different reaction.

There needs to be a way to make it (tourism) work without making it awful. This would seem to be an opportune time to get some creative ideas for solutions to the challenges presented by our late, great friend, overtourism (you know that old saw about crisis and opportunity...).

I know that most tourist businesses just want things to "go back to normal" as quickly as possible. While that's understandable, I would hope that there are ways we could get to something better than what so recently passed for "normal"...

Posted by
1999 posts

The tourist "reality" of popular attractions being "loved to death" by increasing hordes of affluent tourists in guided tours was IMHO unsustainable. In many locales, the tour groups were being resisted. In Amsterdam's red-light district, the girls are there for a business reason, not for titillation. The COVID-19 may initiate a rethinking of the approach to tourism.

Posted by
31055 posts

I expect this same scenario may play out in other locations that have been inundated with tourists over the last few years, and the Cinque Terre also comes to mind. The pandemic has provided some breathing room and an opportunity for local residents to carefully consider whether they want to go back to the way it was or create a new reality.

Some hotels, restaurants and other businesses that we've all patronized in the past may no longer be there. That's going to be happening here too and I'm wondering which of the places I usually patronize will be permanently closing. That should start to become apparent next week and into the summer as the re-opening progresses.

Posted by
1544 posts

If Venice would ban cruise ships I think that would make a huge difference. They’re still going to get a lot of tourists but they’re not as overrun.

If you stay there, you can definitely tell a huge difference early and late in the day. Yes I know some places will probably go out of business but I maybe improving the quality of life and the saving of the city are just going to require that kind of effort.

Posted by
1192 posts

I tend to agree that the levels of tourism have become oppressive and unsustainable, and not just Venice. I wonder if the time has come to reconsider certain aspects of tourism with respect to preserving history and culture.

Posted by
4291 posts

I have visited Venice several times, starting in 1983 and the last time 2010. Yes, the tourist hordes were heaver in more recent times, but we managed quite well in Venice in the more recent trips. Our last time in 2010 we took a cruise and it was wonderful.
However, I do agree that the large cruise ships are causing damage to the city, which is perched on timbers driven into a swamp more about a millennia and a half ago.

We have visited places that have the tourist hordes and since we plan ahead and make our bookings, we do very well. Frankly, I don't see the increased numbers resulting in destruction of these great places, except for the cruise ships in Venice example.

Yes, there are some remarkable places that increased tourism can destroy. I remember in 1985 while in Egypt and on a Nile cruise that we visited some tombs in the Valley of the Kings. We were told that the perspiration of people like us could damage the art painted on the walls of the tombs, so we had a limited time inside. Now, I understand that Nile cruises don't usually allow hordes to visit those tombs. That is a good thing.

Contrary to what a poster added about the red light district in Amsterdam. When I was working overseas, I had a friend that was single and visited the red light district, he had a young woman pull him into a bar and she was aggressively flaunting her assets. It was still a place for that kind of thing, not just a tourist show.

Posted by
2822 posts

The peak crowding problem in Venice comes, mostly, from cruise ships. On the busiest days, there are up to 6 large cruise ships docked, each dislodging some 2200 passengers on average (and this average is increasing as fleets get ever-larger ships).

They mention luring back international academic programs. Until the late 1990s, Venice hosted many internationally-oriented academic programs, from summer schools for different fields to a host of language, music, culture, craft non-academic programs. More than Rome at the time. It was the era of relatively cheap office space. One must remember that Venice started to depopulate well before mass tourism, just because it is, on and by itself, a very expensive place to live a modern life as much as possible.

Whatever they do, they must rush since the business will start to come back soon,.

Posted by
33 posts

We have been to Venice three times on land based travel, and it is one of my favorite places in the world. We have started cruising in the last few years, and so I see the appeal of both means of travel. But I also understand the wish to manage the crowds, and this seems like the perfect time to introduce some restrictions.

We have cruised on ships of just 900 passengers. Isn't there a middle ground option regarding cruises? Limit the number of cruise passengers allowed in a day. If some ports begin to make such restrictions, maybe it will put the brakes on the trend of ever bigger ships which create such difficulties.

Posted by
2028 posts

One man's tourist horde is another man's food and rent.

So true! I have avoided going to Venice, and avoided going back to the Cinque Terre, because of the "tourist hordes". Just this morning I was thinking that the impact of massive cruise ships and multi-day escorted tours on popular attractions will be tempered for a few years - opening the door for those of us with the means to enjoy more upscale ways to see the world without "them".

Posted by
6236 posts

just 900 passengers

Just 900 passengers is the equivalent of 30 tour groups with 30 participants each. That doesn't sound like a small number arriving simultaneously. I've never been to Venice (or plan on it) if nothing changes in the future. One less person would be better for everyone else, so I'm fine with it. Controlled numbers and some kind of phasing of the human traffic would actually enhance the quality of the experience, even though it would come with the tradeoff of inconvenience.

Posted by
671 posts

Cruise ship tourists spend the least per capita of any type of tourist. Yes some of the shops on the main tourist routes in Venice would suffer if you banned cruise ships, but it wouldn't hurt the hotels or a lot of restaurants at all. Yes the cruise ships pay fees to dock there, but I've read that all that goes to just countering the 'damage' the ships and their passengers cause. The answer is clearly to ban cruise ships from Venice. This doesn't mean that a person who wants to take a cruise can't visit Venice. They are already talking of building a cruise port near by. Cruises could start or end in Venice and passengers who wanted to could then become 'land' tourists as many of them already do - adding a couple days at the beginning or end of the cruise.

While they are at it they could ban large tour groups as well. The huge groups, too large to stay in any of the hotels in Venice itself, just bus their people in for a day trip (and stay at big hotels on the mainland that can house huge groups). Those people also spend less per capita.

And before the pandemic I was already reading of a plan to consider a 'tax' on tourists. Those staying in hotels would pay via the hotel. And if you banned cruise ships and day trips from huge tour groups then most people would be staying in hotel on Venice. I would be happy to pay a 'tax' to visit a less crowded Venice and know steps were being taken to preserve the city.

And to the person who said he visited in 2010 and didn't find it that crowded. I've visited in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2017 and 2019. There was a noticeable increase in crowds between my 2008 and 2017 visits. Huge difference.

Posted by
783 posts

Over the years I'm become friendly with many workers at hotels, cafes and shops. It's interesting to hear them talk about the tourist trade. To a person the comments are against the cruise ships. Basically, they crowd the streets and shops - as window shoppers primarily. Their meals and lodging are already paid for so hotels and cafes do not see tourist dollars. They are painfully aware of how much they can put into their suitcase so the shop keeps see few tourist dollars.

I love Venice. I try to be there every year for at least a week. Early in the morning I, along with a very few others, get up to watch the real city come alive. About 10 the ships unload (unleash?) and I head for the out-of-the-way areas that tourists seldom find (basically I turn left). Riposo, God's gift to the Italians that too few of us learn to treasure, is part of my schedule. By about 5 the tourists are heading back to the ships. It's almost time for an aperitif and cold buffet of the most amazing flavors before a late dinner (doesn't matter if I'm hungry or not, you gotta eat and this is vacation which means 'no calories'). Piazza San Marco is then alive with music and dancing as people move from orchestra to orchestra. The overture to the Barber of Seville followed by New York, New York. Weird but fun. I always end with a very late night vaporetto ride up and down the Grand Canal which is the perfect prelude to a great night's sleep. Yes. I love Venice. See you in 2021.

Posted by
33 posts

Agnes: "Just 900 passengers is the equivalent of 30 tour groups with 30 participants each. That doesn't sound like a small number arriving simultaneously. I've never been to Venice (or plan on it) if nothing changes in the future. One less person would be better for everyone else, so I'm fine with it. Controlled numbers and some kind of phasing of the human traffic would actually enhance the quality of the experience, even though it would come with the tradeoff of inconvenience."

I don't want to sound like I am defending my personal choice of travel, but I still think replacing a 2000-3000 passenger ship with a 900 passenger ship would be an improvement. From that ship, some passengers will go ashore on their own, and some will take ships excursions. The excursions depart at different times and go to a variety of locations in Venice, including the other islands. It is not as if all 900 people simultaneously arrive in San Marco Square.

Venice has long welcomed tour groups and cruise ships to visit, and now they have an opportunity to determine how to manage tourism going forward. Not everyone who travels is willing or able to go to Venice independently and stay for a week. I hope that whatever restrictions may be put in place, that they will remain open to a variety of styles of travel. I won't be surprised by increased costs and reduced opportunities, but there is a reason why people from all over the world wish to travel there. I have had my chances, and I hope a happy compromise can be reached for those who wish to go in the future.

I think Venice should consider charging tourists a per day fee like at a National Park, especially to day trippers. (Hotel guests are already paying hotel taxes.). Venice needs this money for maintaining historical sights, dealing with flooding and trash, and to compensate for a low population - not enough taxes to collect.

I don't blame Italians for not wanting to live in Venice. It's a great place to visit. But, I'm not sure I would want to live around such a constant crush of tourists. Expensive to eat and drink in San Marco square, etc..

Posted by
407 posts

My only hope is that this, hopefully one-in-a-lifetime, opportunity for Venice to make some effective changes is not squandered. Now is the time for them to take action, whatever it may be.

Posted by
7284 posts

All good ideas here. I hope Venice stops allowing cruise ships (of any size) and implements all of luftmensch’s suggestions. Venice would be so much more enjoyable for locals and for visitors. No reason why they can’t do all of this. I hope they don’t squander this opportunity, as Sempre Italia said. We shall see.

Posted by
835 posts

People talk about Venice being crowded, and yet if you venture east of the Arsenale, orcwest towards Santa Marta, you see very few people. The problem is the ignorance of many visitors, visitors who cannot see past the Big Four; Rialto, Piazza, Basilica and Ducal Palace. Three of the four are within 100 metres of each other, the Rialto 400 metres or so along the Mercerie, one of the most crowded streets in Venice.

There is so much more to Venice than that, but it is not discoverable in a one day visit, barely discoverable in a one month visit. The Biennales, various off-Broadway galleries, churches and museums, a bunch of one-off exhibitions at places like the Fortuny, they all take time and draw you all over Venice. Homo Faber, an exhibition showcasing the absolutely finest craftsmanship, postponed (thanks ever so much, Corona virus) from 2020 to some time in 2021. The Tre Oci photo gallery always has something worth seeing, maybe a retrospective of a well known photographer.

It all takes time, and time is the most limited of commodities. But do try and stretch your time a bit; Venice will amply reward you. Spenda week there and the people in your local bar will recognise you when you walk in.

Posted by
835 posts

This from Philip Gwyn Jones. He lives in Venice; writes novels.
Two days ago I went to buy a newspaper, a sandwich and a book. Things that would have seemed banal at the beginning of March now seem like a bit of a privilege. I needed to stretch my legs and so I walked along the Zattere to what passes for Walter’s edicola these days. You might have heard about Walter. His newspaper kiosk was washed away into the Giudecca canal by the acqua grande last November. It’s since been recovered but, until it’s properly patched up again, Walter’s operating out of a space belonging to the church of the Gesuati on the Zattere.

I stop by Al Bottegon to pick us up a couple of panini for lunch. They’re famous for some of the best cicheti in Venice, and do some of the best filled rolls as well. Getting to the bar is usually akin to a contact sport, but there are no such problems today. The floor is marked out with tape, indicating the obligatory 1m of distance, but the bar is quiet anyway. It would be nice to stop and have a drink, but Caroline isn’t with me and I don’t think it would seem quite right. The first drink outside our apartment in ten weeks is something, I think, we really need to do together…

Libreria Toletta is the largest bookshop in this part of town. They’ve never stocked my books, but I forgive them (it’s an issue with the Italian distribution system, and there’s nothing they can do about it), and so I think it would be nice to stop off and browse. One door has been marked out as a dedicated entrance, the other as the exit. There are no formal restrictions on numbers, just a request to be patient and respectful. In the event, there is just one other customer. We dance our way around each other, leafing through books as best we can in our thin latex gloves, always mindful of maintaining a minimum distance from each other. I buy a book by Gianrico Carofiglio that I haven’t read – I don’t know why, but there’s always a book by Gianrico Carofiglio that I haven’t read – pay (contactless, of course) and make my way home along a not-quite-deserted Calle Lunga.

That evening we go out with a friend, for a Spritz at Nico’s on the Zattere. It’s a slightly odd feeling. Everything feels normal and yet – like everything else today – anything but normal. We are at liberty to remove our masks. The waiter, however, is not, which makes conversation between us feel just a little awkward, unequal. A family of five are seated on the adjacent table, positioned, of course, exactly one metre away. The three little girls wander just a little bit too close to us, and mamma arrives quickly to chivvy them back to their seats. Most of the customers unmask as soon as they sit down, other stay masked as long as they possibly can. Everybody, evidently, is having a good time, enjoying the early evening summer sun in that blessed period before it becomes too hot. And yet, it’s evident that things are not quite as they should be.

That’s to be expected, of course. Things don’t feel normal. Not yet. That’s going to take some time. But things are, perhaps, normal enough for now. And that’s enough to be going on with.

And it was also a hell of a good spritz.

Posted by
4841 posts

Part of the problem is just plain economics, supply and demand. If you limit the number of tourists, then soon the only tourists are going to be those that have the means to pay extra high prices. If you ban Cruise ships, they will find or entice another nearby town to build a port and offer excursions (and pay the fees). Trieste is a bit far, but would kill to get a few cruise ships, but then "Florence" is a port of call.

While many blame cruise ships, even individual travellers are part of the problem.

Posted by
835 posts

“While many blame cruise ships, even individual travellers are part of the problem.”
It does depend on how the individual travels. We have visited Venice some ten times, staying in total for about a year. I guess we have made a contribution to the economy by buying fish at the Rialto, rather than usingvthe market just as background for selfies. Taken a couple of kayak trips, supported thebars on Certosa and Sant’ Erasmo, visited the Armenian monastery, bought spritzes at Quadri, lunch at the Querini.

A different way of being a visitor.

Posted by
11108 posts

Is there actually a problem? If there were, would legislation be enacted to remedy it?

Posted by
11108 posts

luftmensch, you are still assuming there is a "problem". A problem for who? The tourists? I am assuming (maybe incorrectly, so correct me if I am wrong), that Venice has a democratically elected government that could if it saw a problem, legislate the crowds? If it doesnt, then maybe the benefits for Italians outweigh the negatives? Or am i missing something?

Posted by
835 posts

Luftmansch referred to a doco, opening with the words “Venice’s ten thousand year history”. That would make Venice as old as Stonehenge. The doco does not seem to mention any of the “off Broadway” attractions in Venice.

Maybe the filmmaker never found them.