The Italian daily newspaper Il Gezzettino has pointed out that UNESCO World Heritage warned it might place the city of Venice in the endangered sites category due to mass tourism as well as the rising sea levels caused by climate changes.
The Italian authorities have also been criticized for failing to protect the city and the surrounding lagoon. On the other hand, the former mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari, has reacted to the news, calling UNESCO “one of the most expensive, useless bodies on the face of the earth,”.
Tourists and residents have reached UNESCO’s recommendation for Venice to be placed on the list of World Heritage in Danger.
According to a social worker also a tourist from Paris to Venice highlights, it is important to change practices in order to take care of these sites. She also points out that she approves and is in total favour of UNESCO’s approach.
“I work in Venice, and I see how the city is treated every morning and how many people there are when I leave work. Venice can’t be respected if there are too many people. The situation never changes,” says Vanessa di Bernardo, a local waitress.
UNESCO’s In Danger label aims to encourage improved preservation of the site for the future.
Mass tourism hasn’t only impacted the city’s cultural heritage but also the quality of life.
According to Venessia.com, a group advocating for the preservation of the city-cultural site for some time now, last year revealed that mass tourism has caused the population in Venice to drop by 50,000. That is the highest decrease in records for the Venetian population.
“We have been warning about this for years … we don’t want to give up, but no administration has managed to reverse the trend. Tourism is a double-edged sword because you take money, but at the same time, you expel all the activities and space for [the residents],” the organisation’s leader Matteo Secchi told the Guardian.
He also noted that the soaring number of tourists as well as the city authorities’ single-minded focus on tourism, are turning the destination into a ‘cash machine’ and ‘suffocating’ the residents.
Some of the main consequences of mass tourism include higher living costs, fewer affordable housing options and essential businesses in the city being substituted by souvenir shops for tourists, making living very difficult for Venetian residents.
The authorities launched a program last year, which aimed at attracting young workers to Venice – in an attempt to boost population growth, but it barely brought any improvement.