Venice bans new hotels as crackdown on tourism continues
'For the protection of the city'
Authorities in Venice have said they will prevent new holiday accommodation from opening up in its historic centre.
The proposed ban is the latest in a series of measures aimed at curbing runaway tourism in the iconic Italian city, where the few remaining locals feel increasingly marginalised.
Massimiliano De Martin, Venice’s councillor for urban planning, submitted the plan to the mayor’s office and described the measure as essential “for the protection of the city”.
He told local reporters that hotels were increasingly taking over residential buildings in the city, pushing locals out and “running the risk of impoverishing the city’s social fabric”.
In 2016, Venice’s population crashed to 55,000 inhabitants. According to local media, if depopulation were to continue at its current rate, the city wouldn’t have a single resident by 2030.
This trend has put tourists on something of a collision course with Venetians, who have made their feelings clear by protesting against the influx of visitors.
Some angry residents have even used gondolas to block cruise ships from sailing down the Giudecca Canal.
Consequently, some operators, including P&O, have reduced the number of cruise liners they are sending to the city, which some fear will have a negative impact on the economy.
“Venice is losing passengers and ships,” said Pino Musolino, the president of Venice Port Authority. “That is not just a problem for our city but for other ports in the Adriatic as cruise ships are only visiting them on their way to Venice.”
Despite concerns over falling tourism revenues, authorities look set to press ahead with a ban on new hotels. It’s not an unprecedented move: Amsterdam introduced a similar measure to stop the city turning into “Disneyland”, as has Barcelona.
The Venetian authorities have also implemented other measures to mitigate the effects of mass tourism, including a “locals first” policy for its water buses and a ban on cruise ships over 96,000 tons (though the latter measure has since been overturned).
They have also banned new fast food restaurants from opening in the city in a bid to preserve its historic charm.
Around 22 million tourists visit Venice annually; that works out at more than 60,000 a day, which is greater than the population of the city.