For some time, Venice has buckling under the weight of overtourism – and it’s not because the City of Canals is slowly sinking. The city feels it is simple not large enough (and too culturally sensitive) to cater to the average 60,000 tourists that visit the Italian city every year.
One of the measures the city’s authorities have taken to curb tourism was the recent installation of waist high metal barriers at some busy intersections that aim to divert tourists down less frequented alleyways and aid commuting locals.
The initiative was introduced for the bank holiday long weekend at checkpoints across lanes leading from Venice station towards the Rialto Bridge, St Mark’s Square and other sights, the UK Telegraph reported.
And whilst the turnstiles remained open over the weekend, officials said they would be manned and closed to visitors if tourist numbers became too high on the May Day bank holiday.
“The barriers will only be closed if there are large crowds. The aim of them is to break up and divert the flow of tourists,” Luigi Brugnaro told Corriere della Sera newspaper, calling the move an “experiement”.
“We’ll be able to close one part of the city and open up another, controlling the degree of crowding. Venetians have the right to a city that is safe and liveable.”
In response to the radical idea, dozens of activists tried to dismantle one of the barriers, carrying banners that read, “Venice is not a nature reserve, we’re not in danger of extinction.”
Elsewhere, according to the Telegraph, the Italian island of Capri is considering copying Venice’s lead, as it hopes to control mass tourism of its own.
“We’re going to try out an experiment similar to the one in Venice,” said mayor Gianni De Martino.
“I well understand the difficulties faced by my Venetian counterpart. We can’t stop tourists disembarking but we can do something (to improve the situation).”
What do you think of this idea?