"We don't want a tragedy, as the one almost happened the last week, or the Giglio accident in 2012. We want to stop it now”. With this speech, Tommaso Cacciari, president of “NO TO BIG SHIPS” movement (NO GRANDI NAVI) started the crowded parade though the tight streets of Venice, reaching the entry of San Marco square. The main topic is the dangerous presence (for the lagoon ecosystem, and citizens health as well) of huge Cruises that every day sail in front of the historical town.
The problem of big ships is really well known throughout the country and more. As a premonition, on 22 May the street artist Bansky painted “Venice in Oil.” (Cash, 2019), a perfect example of Venice landscape of nowadays: sitting in San Marco square, he didn’t draw the sun setting on the horizon, but the out of proportion ship, taking place instead the sky. All of this just ten days before a SMC cruise accident (Press, 2019): an engine block breakdown has almost led the ship to a tragedy, hurting a little boat and a part of the dock. No victims, not this time. This episode can perfectly explain the mix of rage and fear thought all the citizens in these days.
But this is only one aspect of the impact of turism on Venice. The CNR-ISMAR’s (National Research Council – Institute of Marine Sciences) study, published on the “Scientific Reports Nature” magazine, shows the effects of cruises path on the lagoon’s seabed (Fantina Madricardo, 2019). The images focus on the craters and holes made by the continual passage of 10,000 tonnes and more ships. A water shift with dramatic consequences on the vulnerable ecosystem under discussion.
Venice is dramatically changing over the years, and the citizens are the first to feel it. UNTWO (World Tourism Organization) has elected Venice, with its at least 23 million of tourist for years, the capital of overtourism in the world. “The Healthy Travel and Healthy Destinations 2018” (AirBnB, 2018), tried to understand, explain and contain the colossal growth of tourism in these years: according to this document, Venice counts 73.8 guests per resident in 2017, compared with 7.8 guests per resident in Amsterdam, and 4.7 per Barcellona.
On the other hand, AirBnb is trying to improve its own reputation, since the big count of documents that reveals its contribution to make overtourism out of control. In order of time, the last article of “Inside AirBnB” on 2019.05.11 (Corona, 2019), reveals that 6 apartments out of 10 are rentable for the whole year on this website; furthermore, this paper focus on how the most of the benefits from renting apartments is often for international renting agencies, who have nothing to do with local hosts. For those who are not familiar with it, “Inside AirBnB” is an independent set of tools and data that shows you the impact of AirBnb in cities around the world.
Who are the victisms of all of this? Certainly the citizens, stripped of any right to experience a normal and quite life in their hometown. Among them, young students from all over the country (and not only) are fighting in the same direction. Indeed, because of the huge renting request by turists, many apartments are not longer targeted at students, who are forced to highest rent to stay in there. We have to say that some of them are trying to exploit the situation, managing the tourists check in at the rent flats on behalf of the owners: at least, they can get some money to bear the cost of Venice life.
We absolutely need to review our idea of travelling, heading for a more sustainable tourism, and a more sustainable world. We must be more informed about consequences of out actions, debating for correct solutions, taking decisions in compliance with everybody needs, and not just by our own egoistic will.
The next time, we have to take to the streets with “No to Big Ships” people.
AirBnB. (2018). Healthy Travel and Healthy Destinations.
Cash, M. (2019, May 23). "Banksy got kicked out of the world's biggest art event after crashing it to display his latest piece, but people love it anyway.". INSIDER.
Corona, A. (2019). Bollettino Venezia. Inside AirBnB.
Fantina Madricardo, F. F. (2019). Assessing the human footprint on the sea-floor of coastal systems: the case of the Venice Lago. Scientific Reports 9, Article number: 6615 .
press, A. (2019, June 3). "Cruise ship crashes into tourist boat in Venice, injuring five people.". The Guardian.