Venice. A Ticket Against the Citizens

A conference with the foreign press in Rome illustrated the critically serious problems with the access fee in Venice (the ‘ticket’) as well as counter-proposals that fit within a vision of the city that puts the lives of residents first and truly regulates the flow of tourists.
FRANCO MIGLIORINI
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When the voice of an administration does not represent the feelings of the citizens, it is up to the citizens to express their resentment of the bad governance of the city. The introduction of the entrance fee in Venice is a demonstration of this.

This is the epilogue and summary of a long administrative period during which the centralization of decision-making power transformed the city council from a democracy into a corporate administrative body. Ironclad and self-referential.

On May 20, the citizens’ message took the stage, in that same Roman international press headquarters the mayor used for his triumphant announcement of the ticket as the commercial turning point for the tourist use of the city, to show the international press the reality of Venice.

That international press witnessed the triumphal announcement of the revolutionary urban access tax with curious incredulity: Venice is the first in the world. This is the message!

However, international comments, which recognize in Venice the symbol of a legacy as extraordinary as it is precarious, did not miss the unscrupulous use that the tourist industry is making of the city, in full harmony with the local administration.

And that same press was able to note that the administration is not a company authorized to violate the lifestyle of the inhabitants.

The first proof came with the city’s protest on the same day the payment started. This was followed by the concrete documentation that the organized democratic presence offered to the press, material proof of the proposal’s failure.

The denial of the “deterrent” intent of the initiative had already come by the launch of the “access ticket”. The torrent of payments received from the ticket shows that the measure has actually turned into the opposite. A real promotion of access to Venice, like a cheap product at a discount. In fact, it is a clever form of marketing. An authentic business technique, where success is measured by numbers.

The important thing is that we are talking about Venice. Because that’s how the market works.

For just five euros – less than two coffees sitting at the bar – access is guaranteed to everyone without any threshold. Furthermore, the measure applies only to a small number of potential visitors, compared to a large majority who have access by law, as well as with exclusion or exemption from the payment. In short, it is a fig leaf spread over the cumbersome reality of the permanently guaranteed excess.

So, much ado about nothing? No, it is not!

In reality we are at the final stages of a ten-year strategy to definitively and irreversibly imprint the metamorphosis of a small, dense and precious city of art into an “open-air museum”, or “theme park”, or even “UNESCO certified historical landscape”. According to what is preferred.

The press conference organized by the council group of the Municipality of Venice “Tutta la Città insieme”. In the center Giovanni Andrea Martini, in between architect Franco Migliorini and lawyer Enrico Tonolo.

The ticket itself has in fact taken the form of an indecent bargain of a political-cultural nature between the Venetian administration and UNESCO itself. The objective was to prevent Venice from being placed on the Endangered Heritage Site list, in which the city had been, deservedly, threatened to be included for years. In fact, the ticket is the result of the overtourism policy pursued by the current administration. Injury is thus accompanied by insult! Not by chance. This is their style, and it is recognizable.

In a city that has been discussing the limits of tourism for forty years, the issue of the ticket is purely a matter of mass distraction. The real issue is instead the definition of the threshold of visitors that is compatible with the urban life of the inhabitants. This is logically simple, as much as it might be unpleasant to some of the many interests that move in the city.

Various international organizations have experimented with methods of evaluating the “tourist carrying capacity” of a site. The literature includes work from the WTO, the World Tourism Organization, to UNESCO itself, to the European Parliament and others. There is always one question: the relationship between tourists and citizens and protection of the site.

But the passage of time, with the overwhelming evolution of tourism in the decades of globalization, poses a very different issue in Venice today, because the very survival of the historic city is now at risk. If you want to think about the issue seriously, you have to propose how much and how to lower the figure of over thirty million visitors in 2023, a new absolute record achieved in the first post-pandemic year. The growth forecasts of international tourism in the future must also be addressed.

Spokesman of the Venetian panel, Enzo Bon, between lawyer Tonolo and architect Migliorini.

The overall sum of Venetian tourism includes the reality of the seventy thousand tourist beds – a third hotels and two thirds airbnbs – present in the historic island city. To these must be added the entire large and composite component of daily commuters, who vary between ten and fifty thousand presences per day.

The sum of the two maximum peaks is not a number. It is an urban nightmare, for inhabitants and visitors. But while the visitors pass by, the inhabitants remain. Ever fewer, ever older, towards the very extinction of citizenship.

And this is not to say that this is not the true intent of an administration that works on growing the demand to extend the development of supply. The urban economy of Venice and the resulting consensus are now based on this.

Behind this elementary observation lies the entire dense network of tourist-real estate interests that rules the income of the Venetian economy, which is polarized between corporate income positions and the low salaries of the vast array of tourist services. Jobs often filtered by temporary work. Here specialization is not required, because the Venetian economy does not require qualifications. All you need are arms and legs.

If Venice is at the bottom of the list of Veneto’s urban incomes, it shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Meanwhile in the local press…

The full video of the press conference is on the FB account of the Association of the Foreign Press in Italy. Click HERE to see it.

Translation by Paul Rosenberg

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Venice. A Ticket Against the Citizens ultima modifica: 2024-05-21T14:40:26+02:00 da FRANCO MIGLIORINI
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