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Venice - An Interesting Story on Trying to Stem More Tourist Development...

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May 12th, 2014, 06:12 AM
  #1
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Venice - An Interesting Story on Trying to Stem More Tourist Development...

Interesting story in today's NYTimes about the fight over an abandoned island that is up for sale by the Italian Government (selling off assets to make money for the cash-strapped State) - one group wants to make it an exclusive tourist development for the rich and a local group wants to use it for things of use to the dwindling number of Venetians who actually live in Venice (now only 60,000, down from 108,000 in the 1970s).

And sacrilege! On another island - an old garbage dump - plans are afoot to make an amusement park with a Venetian bent!

Anyway the struggle continues for Venetians who want to stem the heavy tourist development that is more and more chasing them off to the mainland.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/12/wo...rowd.html?_r=0
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May 12th, 2014, 09:05 AM
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While Venice has a great deal to offer the visitor in terms of history, art, architecture, etc. it is hard to find any other justification for it as a city. What I mean is, it isn't a banking centre, manufacturing centre, etc. that justifies it being there.

Really, it basically exists today only as a tourist centre based on its past and has no relevance for the future other than as a tourist attraction. Maybe it's time for Italy to declare it a 100% tourist attraction and treat it as such.

Chase the residents off to the mainland where providing residential infrastructure etc. makes far more sense than trying to do so in Venice.
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May 12th, 2014, 10:02 AM
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Yes, ship out the 270,000 that live in that area so we can speed up the Disneyfication of Venice and not have things like hospitals, rubbish tips, schools, council buildings or community centres getting in the way of the next load of 'Its Tuesday so it must be St Marks' square brigade.

In fact every town worldwide that doesn't have a notable manufacturing or financial district - just evict everyone and get them to live on the fringes of some super-city so we can cut down on infrastructure provision. Why did no-one think of this before?
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May 12th, 2014, 10:44 AM
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60,000 people live in Venice proper - the tourist Venice not 270,000 as 210,000 of those have already been bought out.

It's a double-edged sword for locals - less tourists in Venice means less jobs for locals - better jobs perhaps than without tourists.

As they say Venice is Sinking --- Under the Weight of Tourism.



there has been talk of just that - charge admission, regulate the number of tourists - I believe they regulate or have the number of tour buses coming to the Pza Roma.

But then Venice would probably be only for the wealthy - us plebes would be priced out.
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May 12th, 2014, 11:25 AM
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May 12th, 2014, 02:16 PM
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RM67, you are not being logical, you are being emotional. As the saying goes, 'when emotion comes in the door, logic goes out the window'.

Suppose we take the opposite approach(I'm not personally adverse to either proposition). Let's close Venice to tourism 100% and keep it just for the locals.

How do you suppose 60,000 people, or if more were to return let's say the 106,000 which is as high as the population has ever been since the 19th century, would manage to keep Venice afloat (pun intended). The answer is they could not.

What the remaining Venetians want is in fact to have their cake and eat it too. They want the hospital, rubbish tips, schools, council buildings and community centres you mention, along with canal maintenance, building maintenance, fire service, police and all the other infrastructure a city needs but without having to accept tourism as the only way they can pay for it since they do not have any other means of doing so such as business taxes, sales taxes, manufacturing taxes, etc.

If you look at a problem logically, you will come up with logical possibilities and conclusions. If you allow emotion into the room however you will simply argue from a position with no regard for reality.

Venice today has no real reason to exist except for tourism. If you wish to allow 60,000 people to live there, then limit the number of residents to 60,000 and at the same time limit the number of tourists to 2,000,000 a year that currently visit. You might then maintain a balance.

However, the reality is that every tourist who goes to Venice spends money which goes into the Italian economy. So if you limit the number of tourists you limit the amount of money they bring to the economy. If 3,000,000 want to come do you really want to turn that money away? In favour of what? Keeping 60,000 residents happy at the expense of all other Italians who could benefit from the tourism money?

Venice is simply a larger version of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) where the few want to avoid something at the expense of the many.

We all want a rubbish tip RM67 but not in our back yard. Venice just happens to be where tourists have decided where a major rubbish tip is allegorically going to be in Italy. Venetian residents don't want it in their back yard. Nothing new in that at all.

If I were the Italian government, I'd tell them to accept the inevitable, buy them out if they wished, declare Venice a National Park and start charging every tourist $50 to enter. Disney makes a fortune doing just that. Italy can use the money.
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May 12th, 2014, 02:20 PM
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dlucie - maybe Venice needs more airbnbs to keep locals in their own residences - to afford to stay in the ever increasing in value property that they may not own.
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May 12th, 2014, 02:25 PM
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I think the thousands of Venicians who are employed by the port and other industries would disagree with you D.

And emotion and logic are not mutually exclusive.

Thanks for the article link PalenQ!
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May 12th, 2014, 03:02 PM
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Actually, Venice and the Veneto are not entirely dependant on tourism - the area has some of Italy's best wines, general agriculture, jewellery manufacture, fashion, glass and textiles. None of which alters the fact that if land becomes unexpectedly available in the city centre the use of it to provide infrastructure for locals is entirely reasonable and wont detract from an already bursting at the seams tourist industry. Btw, I have never heard of anyone wanting basic infrastructure being described as 'having their cake and eating it' - a ridiculous assertion. You can be a successful tourist destination without turning every square inch over to hotels, bars, shops full of tacky souvenirs and cruise liner berths. Restricting the latter would probably solve half of Venice's environmental problems anyway.
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May 12th, 2014, 03:09 PM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venetia...ferendum,_2014

Actually this hard working industrious part of Italy is sick and tired of having to pay for the lazy (allegedly so) southern folk who suck up government funds rather than pay into the government like many here do.

an advisory vote of locals saw 89% vote in favor of independence from Italy - some 56% off all registered voters, factoring in those who did not vote.

Ah La Serenissima Republic of Venice may be reborn!
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May 12th, 2014, 03:16 PM
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I think you;re being deliberately controversial Pal - I'm sure you know as well as I do that the north was typically the wealthier part of Italy due to investment by multinationals in science, engineering, but that the economic downturn has struck here also.
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May 12th, 2014, 03:57 PM
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but RM much of the vote in favor of separation I read was due to the feeling that the north is paying for the laziness of the south, true or not. Northern Italy is if taken apart from the rest of Italy just about the wealthiest section of Europe outside Switzerland and Norway on a GNP per capita basis - yes these are hard working folks despite your claim to the contrary IMO.
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May 12th, 2014, 04:04 PM
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The vote on independence for the Veneto region wasn't any sort of advisory vote. It was an online vote, organized by a fringe secessionist group, with no control over who voted nor how many times they voted. Most people wouldn't bother legitimizing a bunch of nut cases by logging into their internet site.

A few weeks later, some of the organizers were arrested for having constructed an armoured car out of an old tractor. Apparently it's illegal to own private military vehicles in Italy. Maybe the NRA should establish a branch here.

It's a nice idea to keep that island for the pleasure of Venetians, but it's naive. Buying the island and restructuring it, or at least tearing down the decaying hospital, would just be the beginning of the costs of preserving it for public use. It would have to be maintained and managed after that. Who can afford it? The group says it's looking for government help. The government is up to its oxters in debt, and that's why they're selling off public property.

I saw this island once on a boat trip through the lagoon starting in Chioggia. There was commentary along the way, and we were told that the island was going to be turned into a five-star hotel. It didn't sound like a bad idea to me. The island is not within sight of the city center, not of any of the other inhabited islands, so I don't see how it would be crowding out residents or making the city more expensive or undesirable for them. It might get a few hundred rich tourists off the streets of Venice for at least four hours of the day. Not that it would make a dent, but it would set a good example.

All over Italy howls of protest are rising to the heavens over every derelict palazzo that the government wants to sell. Beppe Grillo is screaming about the government pawning our heritage. A crumbling building with trash around it, homeless people bivouacking in the garden, and graffiti on the walls is our heritage?

I only wish the government would sell the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, because it breaks my heart to see its piteous condition. Maybe a private owner would clean it up and make it worthy of the city and the emperor, and, yes, charge admission.
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May 12th, 2014, 04:06 PM
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Ah the local view is often at odds with the tourist's and rightly so perhaps. We just go thru Venice in in brief time and decry the over development that we as tourists help spur - yet real Italians have to pay the brunt often to keep it so... the same.
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May 12th, 2014, 04:53 PM
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May 13th, 2014, 06:49 AM
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http://www.postauto.ch/en/pag-startseite/pag-reisen-und-freizeit/pag-freizeitklick/pag-angebote/pag-gl-palm-express-linie/pag-angebot-detail.htm>

This has always perplexed me about Italy - old churches and buildings allowed to crumble - facades cracking, etc. Some old churches have had scaffolding on them so long that they have become part of the facade.

And the answer IMO is not a government sell off to private interests over which you have less control but more government moneys into fixing these things up - I guess getting folks like Berlosconi to pay taxes would be a first step.
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May 13th, 2014, 06:51 AM
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I only wish the government would sell the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, because it breaks my heart to see its piteous condition. Maybe a private owner would clean it up and make it worthy of the city and the emperor, and, yes, charge admission.>

sorry about wrong link given in my just above post - this is the quote from bvlenci that I responded to - not some Swiss postal bus thing I inadvertently gave. Sorry.
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May 13th, 2014, 09:20 AM
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To start with an anecdote from a year ago ...

A crowded Venice, very crowded around the Rialto. Some visitors asked us how to find San Marco, one of the better signposted places in Venice. We were headed that way, so they walked with us.

Lou told them that San Marco was just near that old building, past the bridge over the canal where the gondolas are, but I don't think they got the joke. Maybe they were too footsore, having maybe walked from their cruise ship to the Rialto.

"Are you off the ship?" they asked.
"No, we're staying here for a while."
"How long for?'
"A couple of months", we replied.
"What do you DO for two months in Venice? Do you go shopping?"

We didn't know what to say, but we thought about it. Yes, we do go shopping.


Whatever is done to the island of Poveglia will make very little difference to Venice. The local push is to have Poveglia cleaned up, maybe use the remnant buildings for a commercial purpose, in order to fund on-going maintenance, and create a bit of public open space in Venice. The outcome that they wish to avoid is another five star hotel being created, like the Mulino Stucky. There is no real shortage of tourist accommodation in Venice, other than at times like the film festival.

The model that they are considering for Poveglia is similar to that that is being employed for La Certosa, an island ten minutes by vaporetto from the main part of Venice. La Certosa has a sad legacy of industrial pollution - a munitions factory was located there once, with a legacy of heavy metal and chemical pollution. La Certosa now has a thriving boatyard, marina for smallish craft - say up to 60 feet long, and the environmental clean up is going well. A sailing school is located there, a small hotel, a kayaking tour operator and boat building school.

The initial bid prices for the 99 year lease on Poveglia are stupid. Two bids, so far, 750,000 euro from some hotel developer, about 250,000 from the group opposing the development. Sums of money that are trivial.

An interesting comment in a post above:
"While Venice has a great deal to offer the visitor in terms of history, art, architecture, etc. it is hard to find any other justification for it as a city. What I mean is, it isn't a banking centre, manufacturing centre, etc. that justifies it being there."

Sure, Venice is not a manufacturing centre any more. The tobacco factory, match factory and Mulino Stuckey pasta factory closed tens of decades ago. While tourism is the biggest commercial activity, there many other aspects to Venetian commercial life that are invisible to short term visitors.

At the Bacini di Carenaggio, there are three dry docks, and heavy fabrication facilities where components for the Mose installation are being built. Those dock-yard cranes are not just ornaments in the sky.

The Italian navy has an officer training school at Sant'Elena.

Female prison on La Giudecca, male prison at Santa Marta, neither of which are noted in too many suggested itineraries.

Thetis, a Sino-Italian sustainable development company, is located at the back of the Arsenale http://www.sdcommunity.org/en/thetis-spa to see what they do.


The music school is located San Vidal

The University Foscari has campuses all over Venice.

A school for applied arts - glass, textiles, sculpture and paint - is located in the cloister of the Carmini in Dorsoduro.

The School of Architecture is located in Santa Marta, also with a campus near the Giardini ex Papodoli in Santa Croce.

There are a dozen small boat yards at San Pietro, and a guy is building a wooden boat at the Venice Sailing Club, near the Bacini voporetto stop.

Horticulture on the outer islands is big, with exports going all over the Veneto.

So, yes, not massive industrialisation, and the main exports from Venice now are likely to be educated students and intellectual property. But the statement above, that the reason for the continuing existence of Venice is just tourism, is quite un-informed.

The statement in the same post above that:
"Really, it (Venice) basically exists today only as a tourist centre based on its past and has no relevance for the future other than as a tourist attraction. Maybe it's time for Italy to declare it a 100% tourist attraction and treat it as such." displays a real lack of knowledge and familiarity with Venice.

Many day visitors, many from cruise liners, spend a day in Venice, walk around the Piazza, visit the Basilica for ten minutes, visit the Doge Palace, buy questionable Murano glass and even more questionable Burano lace, eat a gelato, maybe have a bellini at Harry's for local colour, and think that they have seen Venice. Fact is, they have seen almost nothing. Fair enough, if they only have a day.

So close it down, as suggested. "Chase the residents off to the mainland where providing residential infrastructure etc. makes far more sense than trying to do so in Venice."

Fact is, the residential infrastructure does exist in Venice, and it is expensive to maintain. The gas main on three sides of the Piazza are being replaced right now - ten inch fusion welded poly-prop, for the technical minded - so that a gas explosion from a corroded pipe does not unseat the patrons outside at Florians. That is typical of the infrastructure works being undertaken.

The fact that most day trippers will never understand is that much of Venice, I would dare to say most of Venice, does not have great tourist or historical relevance. The housing in Santa Marta, dating from the early 80's, the housing near the station, built on the site of the match factory, dates from the same time. The apartments on Giudecca, built on the site of the Junghans grenade timer factory have no historical significance, ditto for the apartments near Celestia. Looking out our windows, there are buildings dating from around 1500, and a block of apartments from around 1960. The newer housing at Santa Marta is sterile, Mies van der Rohe worker housing.

Not all of Venice is old and interesting. And it would all be a whole lot less interesting if there were not sixty kids rushing out of the school near here at lunch time.

Slugging tourists has a long history here - from the time of the Crusades. So a single vap ticket costs seven euro. Fair enough, and if you don't like it, invest half an hour and forty euro and buy a Imob card - then you ride for 1.20, and ride a traghetto for 70 cents instead of two euro. Increase the berthing costs for the obscenely big cruise liners, so that they cover the costs of canal dredging and repairing the infrastructure that they jeopardise. Charge a bed tax.

In other words, have the tourists pay their way.
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May 13th, 2014, 10:55 AM
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Thank you Peter for your very thoughtful and knowledgeable post! I cannot believe someone would actually suggest the residents should be chased off to the mainland so it could be a tourist site only.
The Venetians I had conversations with about their city would be horrified.

I agree, increase taxes on tourists. ( I would go a step further and ban the huge cruise ships personally, and re-locate them further away)
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May 13th, 2014, 01:24 PM
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Wel I think a huge amount of tourists come in tour bus groups who descend on Venice just for a day and many may not even spend very much - this is why I think Venetian authorities have limited the number of tour buses. But I guess then that discriminates against tourists -in favor of those staying in Venice and thus spending money on hotels, restaurants, caffes, etc.

Maybe a hefty tax on tour buses should be imposed, if not already and use those funds for much needed infrastructure work - I mean it must cost a fortune to fix an ancient sea-level city's say sewer system.

But maybe day trippers by bus spend more than I think - if not on postcards any more perhaps on souvenirs, etc.
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