İlknur Şebnem Öztemel-TDO-06.08.2017- Venetians have complains about tourists that ‘’invaded’’ their city.

In 2012, I had a chance to visit Venice, as a part of MSC Divina’s route. What a surprise, it was not a good experience. For years, I thought that the beauty of Venice is exaggerated.  Actually, I still do but I may found a reason to why I could not be able to enjoy it.

According to statistics, about 20 million tourists visited the city in which only 270,000 people live, in a year.

In recent years, number of tourists that came to city by cruise ships increased drastically. Even, some environment agencies intervened to the situation as huge cruise liners that are able to transport tens of thousands of people, harm the sea life in the city and detrimental to historical buildings as their powerful engines create waves and shake masterpieces standing for centuries.   It is proven that from 1897, water level in the city increased 23 cm. Previously, government prohibited cruise ships which are above 40,000 tons to enter Giudecca Canal, St. Mark Square and steer them to Contorta-Sant’Angelo. Even, some officers asserted that an unfortunate accident happened in 2014 as Costa’s flag ship of the time, Costa Concordia crashed into a reef, may break weak basements of the city. Also, residents claim that ships that have about ten or more laye cut sun light to reach houses. Additionally, it is argued that smoke that ships released damage these buildings too.  In June, an opinion poll that approximately 18,000 people joined voted against cruise ships to be out of the lagoon.

A new problem has emerged as residents of the city became highly annoyed by record number of tourists that make city unendurable.  They say that there are very long lines in front of shops, restaurants, museums, gondolas and even its hard to walk in already narrow streets.

Officers defend that it is not beneficial for both Venetians and tourists. Italian government officials call this lamenting “low-quality tourism” and think to limit the number of tourists.

Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister of Culture, said “If you arrive on a big ship, get off, you have two or three hours, follow someone holding a flag to Piazzale Roma, Ponte di Rialto and San Marco and turn around”. He named this as “Eat and Flee” brand of tourism, undesirable for all.  Actually, this was what I felt.

Only a weekend in the year, inhabitants take back their city during the Feast of Redeemer in July. Woefully, Vienna Biennale coincided with the feast. In that sense residents and the art enthusiasts have developed a sort of alliance against the crowds who march on St. Mark’s.

In April, Governor Luigi Brugnaro, stated that they would put counters into enter city’s enter points and try to define a limit on the number of tourists if the plan would be approved by UNESCO.He said ‘’ We presented several projects to organize tourist flow to the city and make it comparable with daily lives of residents’’.