Congratulations, Tourists, You’ve Officially Killed Venice

In 2002, some 2.7 million tourists visited Venice. By 2017, that number ballooned to 5 million.

Venice canal
One of the main waterways in Venice. (Giuseppe Cacace/ AFP/ Getty)
AFP/Getty Images

After years of dealing with the hordes of tourists that swarm Venice to take gondola rides down its canals and crowd its narrow walkways, locals have decided they’ve had enough.

It’s a phenomenon that’s been noticeable since the 1970s, according to Bloomberg, when the Venetian population started to trend downward. Today, only about a third of its citizens remain. More and more have moved out as the city has done little to dissuade tourists from descending on the city in droves. But this mass exodus of locals has created a paradox in which industries powered by citizens — like steel and chemicals, Bloomberg reported — no longer exist, leaving those who remain dependent on tourist dollars.

Venice’s new reality is “a direct consequence of years of choices in the name of money,” the Piazza San Marco business association head, Claudio Vernier, told Bloomberg. “The city is plagued by over-tourism. Services can’t keep up with the increasing demand for fast-paced, cheap tourism.”

In 2002, some 2.7 million tourists visited Venice. By 2017, that number ballooned to 5 million — and that doesn’t include those who stayed via Airbnb and through other non-traditional means. The population, however, has shrunk to just under 60,000.

Local prices for food and at bars have reflected the influx of non-residents, but long gone is the practice of charging one price for citizens and another for visitors, despite the city’s entry fees for tourist.

“Venice has become an impossible place to live,” souvenir merchant Nicola Ussi told Bloomberg. “It’s too expensive and everything is designed to boost tourism.”

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