Venice borderline

di Isabella Scaramuzzi e Giovanni Santoro

We would risk not to feel in summer, without all those polemics about mass tourism in Venice!
During these weeks, national newspapers stress the same old story about declining demographics: in Venice antique core, the lagoon neighbourhood of a larger municipality, residents slow down the dramatic loss of the past, towards a small size town, around 60.000 inhabitants. The main share of them are old aged people, old ladies in their eighties, alone in large apartments ready to be transformed, by their grandsons, in B&B or holidays homes. This demographic trend is running since the Fifties, named exodus, with a biblical sentiment for an inevitable divine destiny. Each normal downtown experienced such a filtering down process, but for Venetians it is a special punishment, the modern pest. Nowadays the loss of residents is due mainly to the death/birth ratio more than for immigrant/emigrant one. Venice shows a desperate need of young immigrants able to fill the nest here. On the other side, international newspapers, recall the same old story about mass tourism, that impacts negatively the fragile city heritage, growing without a rest, towards un-sustainability and over. Also this lamentation started long time ago, in the Eighties, but no studies and no applications had worked out in changing the natural evolution of the market, with its cold strength.
The same old conclusion of both stories is that things go badly and City Government is not able to solve the problem of the Death in Venice. Probably the Myth needs to be maintained as well as the monumental heritage: this city is the Saved One, and we have always to save it from some peril: the tide of the Sea, the flood of mass customers. So local media prepare the local field for the election struggle in 2010: who will be the Major so brave to manage new Barbarian invasions, to stop them and save (again) the Doge realm? But what the goal of international media? Probably the Italian synthesis of the reportages do not explain the authors' spirit and tend to fuel local controversy.
We suggest that telling nasty experiences about Venice should turn out to be an indirect promotion of the place. As, during the Sixties, the tale about the submerging city contributed to the growing global flow of visitors, and of international funds for saving Venice as well, never ending plea about the overwhelmed heritage gem strengths the flow itself. In the past 3 decades the chorus of alarms about mass consumption of the lagoon city has been always singing worldwide: notwithstanding the tourism nights grew from 2.3 million towards 6, with no respect to global crisis, negative events, European decline in share of world tourism, upcoming new destinations. And, in a rush of mass consumption for culture, heritage and art, to Venice have been directed every kinds of visitors: the fast-tour as far as the elites of events and contemporary expositions. Each of them can actually find his or her Venice: maybe behind the advertising posters or hidden just round the corner, in private homes and in neglected churches. Sorry, but is not promoting Treviso as an ersatz of the Serenissima, that we can erase the unique real Venice from the imaging of the world: Treviso, as Caorle or Grado, is a place that deserves its own visitors and connoisseurs. Since 20 years APT (the local tourist board) of Venice, that has a metropolitan scale, promotes Venetian Villas along Brenta canal and the seaside hinterland, along the Litoranea Veneta, with the magical lagoon and river landscape stretching from Chioggia to Grado. Mass tourism does not need shift policies that seem to be likely category killing. And a visitor of Venice can spend an augmented holiday, staying in Treviso or viceversa.

Referring to the articles recently appeared on international newspapers (The New York Times, The Australian and Financial Times) we like to introduce a few items about the different possible ways to visit Venice and its Lands. "Venezia e le sue Terre" is the slogan promoted 15 years ago by the Province.
As international newspapers' articles well highlighted, Veneto region is full of unknown jewel destinations and Venice is situated in a framework of art, landscape and natural beauties.
The way to create tourism products using these resources passes through a closer promotional and commercial link between Venice and its region. A link that geographically involves the Venice Mainland (la Terraferma, Mestre and Marghera), such as a logistic platform to visit the regional beauties in the surroundings. A urban strategy that assumes tourism as sustainable development device has to consider mainland and especially the lagoon border with care and creativity. This is a vision not yet consolidated among local stakeholders but a real opportunity for the place.
Among the different ways to visit Venice, it is possible to recognize different ways to escape the overcrowding of massive tourism: modifying the period of visits (in January, November and December for example), walking on alternative routes, visiting the main places in the evening or visiting the unknown beauties of the city. Venice itself is rich of unknown jewel destinations!
Lagoon experience itself means a different way to visit Venice, for instance exploring natural habitat and cultural pearls shipping on typical boats around the minor lagoon islands where you can also find accommodation in a good range of value for money.
At the same time, new technologies and web can prevent visitors from spending or wasting too much time looking for good accommodations, restaurants or public services. On these items City Government developed a web platform that allows having discounts on public services' prices - like public transports, museum tickets, airport-city transfer - if you book your vacation at least 7 day before your arrival (
The information asymmetry is a well known gap in any market and in the experience industry it becomes a minus for the customer. All innovations on web tend to reduce this asymmetry worldwide.

Contemporary consumption, with inevitable massive quantity, has to be managed targeting the supply: in a place like Venice you have to satisfy the take-away visitor as well as the real lover, the frequent guest and the metropolitan customer. You can improve some targets and discourage some others but we think that the total amount will stay high or maybe will increase. There are opportunities for a wide range of suppliers, for a lot of investments, of jobs, incomes and enterprises. To maintain, along with the heritage, the economic capacity of a little city core, extraordinarily populated if you compare it with the core downtown of any other real urban system: both by registered citizens and by the daytime Venetians who come for work, study, business, f&r, leisure time. We estimated they are almost 30.000 added citizens per day. And maybe the opportunity for the people to make all that: maybe the grandsons of old ladies, their young babies and their actual willingness to live here in the immediate future.

Consulta la rassegna stampa

di Isabella Scaramuzzi e Giovanni Santoro Doc.COSES n. 2000.0, agosto 2009.

elenco Studi in corso