Venice is a city that’s built around water. But the people who live in Venice say that now they’re being flooded – not by water, but by tourists.
Venice is sometimes called the “Floating City”. It is built on 118 separate islands. Instead of roads, the different parts of the city are connected by 177 canals and over 400 bridges.
Because it is so unusual, Venice has been a popular place for tourists for a long time. But there are so many tourists now that many people who live in Venice feel like they have lost their city.
Only around 55,000 people live in Venice, but last summer as many as 60,000 tourists visited Venice every day. Each year Venice gets between 20 and 30 million visitors. The lines of visitors waiting to see famous buildings are long, the bridges are packed with people, and the waters are crowded with boats serving the tourists.
Many people in Venice have businesses which earn money from tourists. They don’t want to see all the tourists go away. But even the people who need the tourists agree that there are probably too many of them.
Many of the tourists are coming from huge cruise ships which anchor near Venice. These great big ships bring thousands and thousands of visitors to see Venice’s sights every day. Some people are working to get rid of these boats because they think they bring too many people.
Venice’s mayor recently put gates near the busy tourist areas. He hoped this might solve the problem. In order to leave the tourist areas and go to places used mainly by the people of Venice, people would need to show a card to prove that they live in Venice.
It seems it is a joke, but it's real. Without any notice delivered to residents or to tourism operators like tourist guides or hotels #Venice got its turnstiles at the Constitution bridge and Lista di Spagna by the train station. Simply appalling. #seevenice pic.twitter.com/yVipOFI8i8
— See Venice Tours (@luisella_romeo) April 28, 2018
Some local people were so upset about this that they tore out one of the gates. They say the gates make it seem like Venice is a theme park, like Disneyland. They say they want to live in a real city.
The protestors think the city needs to pay more attention to the people who live there, instead of tourists. They want more places for people to live and fewer hotels. They think that the people of Venice also need to start earning money from businesses which don’t have anything to do with tourists.
Some people say that the tourists just need to be told that they should behave better. As one hotel owner said, “People need to understand and respect the little things that are so important in Venice’s daily life.” The examples he gave included “…not littering and not sitting down for lunch on someone’s doorway.”
Venice is not the only city with problems like these. Around Europe, many places which are popular with tourists, such as Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Dubrovnik, are starting to see protests about tourists from the people who actually live there.
In some places in Venice, words like “Tourists Go Home” have been written on the walls. As the summer tourist season starts up, this is something that a lot of people are going to be thinking about.
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