The Italian city of Venice has long been a popular tourist destination, boasting 25 million visitors a year, but locals say tourism has hit critical mass, prompting even the city's tourism councilor to gripe about visitors. Mass tourism has made walking the city's streets seem like touring a museum, tourism councilor Paola Mar told the Local Tuesday.
“The city doesn’t have to become a museum,” Mar said. “We have to find a way for the residents to live with the tourists.”
Some visitors have brought problems bigger than body mass to Venice's streets. Recently, a slew of incidents involving rowdy tourists riled locals, who want to find a way to vet a more manageable demographic.
Police found a drunken Italian couple passed out in a stolen gondola on the Grand Canal early Friday as three other tourists in the Sant’Alvise quarter brought out their sleeping bags to spend the night on a public bridge. For some visitors, such indiscretions can be attributed to their lack of respect for Venetian culture, Mar said.
“They think the Grand Canal is a beach and walk around with a bare torso. You would never see that in Barcelona, Paris or London. It is about bad manners,” Mar said.
Some other recent incidents of misbehaving tourists include a visitor who took a bath in the Grand Canal last weekend and another who went for a skinny dip last week, the Daily Mail reported. Both incidents incited outrage from local media and exasperated residents.
Mar said the city needs to come together to find strategies to cope with visitors. She suggested the city combat tourism-related problems by encouraging more people to come outside of tourism season, as well as advertising less-frequented attractions.
“We also have to promote the Jewish ghetto and other areas of the city like Canareggio where tourists do not go,” Mar said.