A PROJECT FOR VENICE
“Venice 2020 – a capital of sustainable tourism”
Managing the people flow and the governance of tourism in Venice.
For a long time the city has been without a real and proper governance of tourism and this is why today, before it’s too late, it is indispensable to give solid answers and not vague electoral promises and, therefore a decisive plan is needed. The candidates have to take on tangible tasks and say that practical actions are to be undertaken if they want to have a vote of confidence and managing the people flow is the priority for Venetian historical centre.
The Venetians are fed up with a non regulated tourism which damages the city, pushes away its residents and traditional activities, makes mobility difficult and some areas even unliveable, transforms the city in a touristic product but also making it go into decline as an attraction so it is losing those loyal visitors who love it but don’t identify themselves any longer with this city that has lost its soul and a centuries-old identity.
We need to hold back the waves of mass tourism which are swamping Venice, but how to manage an increasing number of visitors excursionists in such a limited space like Venice? How to make compatible the need to live on tourism with the need to live with it, preserving the city and the life quality of its inhabitants?
The measures which have been implemented so far by administrators or announced by various institutional figures are either ineffective or unworkable: the incentive programmes regarding prices for seasonal adjustment have failed; diverting the flows with alternative itineraries together with a new city tax wouldn’t reduce the flows and the accesses to the city couldn’t be managed, a limited number is contestable for the right to move freely etc.
The only solution lies in the declination of the limit concept; not imposed on all the city but on its part which is most invaded by “ hit and run tourism” (damaging because it’s without any economic repercussion), using St Mark’s Square as a boundary factor, more easily controllable and having a major effect on the entire city.
For this purpose we should create a maximum access limit so that we can program the flows moving towards the area around St Mark’s square, by using digital tools at the booking stage as well as during the actual access to the area, guaranteeing a satisfactory visiting experience with a minimum living space.
This can be achieved by placing the filter upstream, that is, when one decides to purchase a trip to Venice through internet sites, marketplace and intermediary GDS (Global Distribution Systems) which sell Venice today in may different ways. In fact, the sector of tourism today almost entirely passes by Internet and with systems such as booking engine and dynamic packaging, a tourist or an agency will be able to verify if there is availability with regards to the carrying capacity of the Square which will be the equivalent of the historic centre inhabitants. Guests staying overnight in the borough of Venice (as well as residents, workers and exempt categories) would always have a guaranteed access to the Square by way of their payment of the city tax to the accommodation facilities which would give them the right to a bar code/personal smart band. It would be necessary to guarantee to those staying overnight a quote of at least 50% of available seats in order to promote this type of weakened tourism as opposed to the growing phenomenon of hit and run groups.
It’s an argument that is easily understandable by international community since no city can receive in a day more than the number of its inhabitants, at the risk of the city itself to vanish and become a theme park no longer lived by its inhabitants. All the indicators of the world tourism show a constant increase of tourists excursionists, and the ones who are in charge during these saturation moments should take counter measures for the security and public order in such a limited place as the Square.
The other aspect of the city that is much invaded is public transport and also in this case, it is necessary to study a system of access limits and programming, through means dedicated to tourists so that residents and city users can move around without problems. A sustainable mobility should also be guaranteed to tourists so that they can enjoy the experience of transiting on the most fascinating water road in the world without travelling like in a cattle wagon (often after having queued for more than an hour at the ticket office). In this case, if the booking were not to be obligatory as for the Square, there would be a strong incentive to book in advance or, otherwise, there would be a risk of not having a guaranteed seat on the special means of transportation, paying more and queueing for a long time.
Offers from the main cultural attractors of the city would get combined with transport services, always to be pre-sold together on internet through intermediaries. Finally, there should be introduced a circuit which appraises and makes the most of the enormous patrimony of tradition and quality which is still present in the city but often drenched and muddled with a piece of junk (for centuries Venice was the quality emporium of Europe). For this purpose a trademark of “Real Venice” (made in Venice/Venice Doc) should be put to use and managed by the council with an accredited board which will indicate specific parameters to be respected in order to be a part of it; this will trigger a virtuous circle, create new high-profile jobs and award the quality offer that will be exposed to those clients who know hot to distinguish and pay for authentic things.
This menacing tourism will become an opportunity and Venice will be able resolve its financial problems with new entries and develop into a capital of sustainable tourism and finally get out of a perverse whirl that we have witnessed in the recent years. Now there are concrete tools thanks to the society’s digital evolution too, therefore we are asking everyone to support this project so that for once the promises can turn into facts and a better city than the one we have found is given to future generations.
Marco Scurati: Gestione Flussi Turistici | Venezia 2015 http://www.luminosigiorni.it/