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Venice authorities introduce new tourism rules

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-01-03 09:52
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People dressed as Santa Claus row during a Christmas regatta along the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, Dec 17, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

The authorities in Venice have decided to ban loudspeakers and tourist groups of more than 25 people, in a bid to ease the impact of mass tourism on the popular Italian city.

Thousands of visitors crowd the ancient squares, bridges, and narrow walkways of Venice each day, but groups visiting the canal city will be further limited, starting from June.

In a statement released on Saturday, the city announced that it will also ban the use of loudspeakers, citing "confusion and disturbances" as the reason.

The new measures are "part of a broader framework of interventions aimed at improving and better managing tourism in Venice, thus guaranteeing a greater balance between the needs of those who live in the city ...and those who come to visit the city", said Simone Venturini, Venice's tourism councilor.

Sky News noted the city had previously announced other plans to regulate the crowds and promote longer visits, including a trial of a new entry fee of 5 euros ($5.50) per person on 29 peak days between April and mid-July, and the banning of large cruise ships.

UNESCO, the UN cultural agency, cited the significant impact of tourism on the fragile lagoon city as a major factor when it considered placing Venice on its list of heritage sites in danger. It ultimately decided not to include Venice on the list, in recognition of efforts made to tackle the issue.

Despite its small size of just 7.6 square kilometers, the city attracted nearly 13 million tourists in 2019, as reported by the Italian national statistics institute, which projects that visitor numbers will surpass pre-pandemic levels in the coming years.

Amid growing concern that tourists could overwhelm the historic city, an increasing number of residents are opting to leave, prompting citizen associations to initiate studies in April to monitor the availability of beds for both tourists and locals, reported the BBC. The latest update from one of these associations, Ocio, reveals that the number of beds for tourists has surpassed 50,000, which exceeds the quantity available to residents.

Elisabetta Pesce, the official responsible for the city's security, emphasized that the new policies were implemented with the goal of enhancing the flow of tourist groups.

Pesce said it was an "important measure aimed at improving the management of groups organized in the historic center and on the nearby islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, promoting sustainable tourism and guaranteeing the protection and safety of the city".

In addition to the challenges posed by tourism, Venice continues to grapple with the impact of climate change. During the past century, Venice has experienced a subsidence of more than 15 centimeters, and in 2019, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro attributed a devastating flood, which submerged more than 85 percent of the city, to the effects of climate change.

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