FAQ on tourism in Venice

an interview to Isabella Scaramuzzi, July 2007

  1. Is tourism good or bad for the city of Venice? (from an economic, social and cultural perspective)
    And what do you think about the day-trippers visiting the historic centre?

  2. What are the positive and negative impacts of the tourism industry?

  3. Are the inhabitants of the historic centre important or not? And Why?

  4. How do you think tourism in the historic centre will be in the future? And how do you want it to be?

  1. Tourism is absolutely good for Venice.
    I have to explain that Venice is not the island (fish-shaped) that everyone in the world call Venice. Our city is bigger than the "fish" and includes mainland (Mestre and Marghera, M&M: a medium size Veneto city over 250.000 inhabitants, with a chemical site nationally relevant and a port and airport areas, internationally relevants…).
    So tourism economy is very good for this European city: as economy and as image as well.
    If you look at DATAR ranking of European cities in 2003 (see the Datar site on the web and also COSES website) you can appreciate that the position of Venice is due to tourism, culture, chemistry, shipyards, port and so on.
    Day trippers are an important share of today tourism and leisure economy. Also Venice, as many day-destinations, supports an heavy impact from day trippers but this phenomenon is inherent leisure economy and mass consumption. So Venice, as other historical gems, has to manage this kind of demand, not to demonize it.
    From the culture point of view I think that tourism gives Venice its global resonance and that mass culture is very different from elite culture in the past Centuries. So magnificent heritage that Venice gives to the world is available thanks to local-national care but also thanks to tourism fame and visitors money. Nowadays, in Venice it is possible to produce culture only because its built heritage has been preserved thanks to big amount of public and private money. Non material culture is strongly linked to material one, and visitor audience is absolutely necessary to develop and maintain living and performing culture, today.
    Socially speaking, tourism has a well known impact on local community (as in the other cities and islands!). Venice has to find a balance between the economic sustainability of a very peculiar water-heritage-city and the contemporary leisure economy.

  2. Positive impacts of tourism in Venice are to maintain the heritage and to put some outside shocks into an aged community. The money flow is a big positive impact, without any loss during 40 years and with a good sprawl, in the whole city (mainland included) and across social classes.
    Negative impacts are crowded sites, higher prices and shifting from residents' activities to visitors' ones. We have also a banal place product, that reduces the value of visitors' experience (and their willingness to pay for) and limits the heritage potential to generate culture, jobs and quality.
    Without tourism the old city core (the fish shaped island) will be a dead zone, with big economic and social problem as well.

  3. Inhabitants of historic centre (the fish shaped island) are important as any other resident in the city, mainland included: neither more, nor less. I stress that also mainland has an historic centre (Piazza Ferretto, Piazza Barche, Torre Belfredo) as any other city in Veneto (or Italy) has. The ancient core (what you call historic centre), the real destination of tourism and visitors flow, is not the city but a neighbourhood of a city, its CBD Central Business district or, better, its RCD recreation central district: its inhabitants are not only residents (registered at the City Anagrafe), but also students (at city Universities) and temporary citizen, not to count commuters that are the day time population, coming from the mainland city and the metropolitan region. If we think the inhabitants of ancient island centre as typical and heritage-shaped we work for a banal tourism city and not for a vibrant and real place to live in.

  4. Tourism in the fish-shaped island centre will change along with global evolution of leisure, holiday and culture consumption. Venice can manage the flow but has to manage it according to what it will be! We have to produce a strong qualified supply matching emerging and consolidated demand segments. Mass consumption in leisure, travel, culture and entertainment will grow dramatically. Venice cannot ignore this trend, it has not to escape it. I want the city, as a whole, think and translate into place products, real answers to this global change.
    I do not think that wishful thinking is the best practice to manage tourism. If Venice stops to complain about visitors and begin to work, as a contemporary global city, things will work better.
    Please, help us on this way!


elenco Studi in corso