Venice, Italy threatened by mass tourism, could become a UNESCO “endangered world heritage site”
Venice, Italy – There are more tourists than inhabitants in Venice; up to 90,000 people visit the city every day.
As CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports, the “tourist problem” has become so serious in Venice that UNESCO – the UN’s cultural body – has threatened to put the city on a list of “heritage sites”. world in danger “.
He gave Italy two years to fix the problem, but so far no solution is in sight.
Venice’s unique charm makes it a popular destination for many travelers. Its idyllic, narrow canals and picturesque alleys attract over 20 million tourists a year – and that’s where the problem lies.
Environmentalist Jane Da Mosto says the famous Venice Lagoon is vulnerable.
âIt’s too small, it’s too fragileâ¦ and we can’t take care of people who think they’ll come to a theme park.
As a resident of Venice, she worries her city will become just a backdrop for selfies.
While the number of visitors has grown rapidly, the local population is shrinking. In 1951, the Italian city had nearly 170,000 inhabitants. Today, they are less than 55,000.
The Venetians organized a demonstration against the ever increasing tourism. Protesters were carrying luggage as a symbol that they were about to come out.
“We have to find a way to protect Venetian life,” Mateo Secchi, one of the protest organizers, told CBS News, “because a city without citizens is a city without a soul – it’s like Disneyland.”
Although he works in a hotel, Secchi says that mass tourism is “a double-edged sword because at the beginning you make a lot of money and everyone is happy, but at long distance it is. a big problem “.
The most obvious signs of the outsized impact tourists have on the small town are the huge cruise ships that arrive daily and eclipse the lagoon.
Paolo Costa, the president of the port authority, says cruise ships are simply a scapegoat.
âEveryone thinks there’s a big ship coming out of nowhere – with a flood of tourists and they’re flooding the city – that’s not quite true,â he says.
Cruises represent less than 10 percent of tourists to Venice. Instead, the fault seems to lie with three-quarters of tourists who only spend one day in the city. These âday trippersâ travel to the famous city but rarely contribute to the local economy.
Deputy Tourism Mayor Paola Mar describes tourism as “the city’s most important resource”, but admits something needs to be done to address the “25 years of mismanagement” that led to this crisis .
They are currently evaluating more than 15 proposals to tackle the problem, including increasing taxes on tourists or closing and selling tickets to high-traffic areas such as Piazza San Marco.
Venice’s size and geography make it vulnerable to the global tourism crash.
The city will need to find innovative ways to tackle the problem if it is to avoid the label of âWorld Heritage Site in Dangerâ.