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Venice mulls a cap on tourist numbers to tackle overcrowding

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Venice mulls a cap on tourist numbers to tackle overcrowding
Venice is a must on most travellers' bucket-lists. Photo: Zoltán Vörös/Flickr
11:16 CET+01:00
Tourist hotspot Venice is considering introducing a limit on the number of tourists allowed in the historic city centre, a spokesperson from the tourism councillor's office has confirmed to The Local.

Tourism might be fundamental to the northern city's economy, but the problems visitors bring with them - ranging from petty crime to excessive pressure on the historic bridges and roads - have provoked complaints from locals for years.

Now, the city is seriously considering setting a limit on the number of tourists allowed in at any one time; a measure which was introduced earlier this year in the towns that make up Cinque Terre.

"We're thinking about it; it’s not definite but we are considering it,” a spokesperson from tourism councillor Paola Mar’s office confirmed to The Local on Wednesday, declining to comment further.

According to La Stampa, city authorities are mulling the introduction of an online-booking system and smartphone app to control visitor numbers.

A special commission is reportedly reviewing "every detail" of around seven proposed solutions, and by early 2017, the city plans to begin implementing solutions to the overcrowding.

"Venice is always beautiful, but all the more so when you can see the monuments in your photos, and not just strangers' heads," the councillor told the Italian daily.

However, Mar told The Local this summer that capping visitor numbers - as is the case in Cinque Terre, where tourists who arrive after the visitor limit has been reached must wait until the following day - would be very difficult in Venice.

“We can't simply ‘close' the city – besides, it's against the constitution,” she said at the time. 

Instead, the tourism chief backed alternative solutions to Venice's tourism woes, including publicity campaigns to promote less popular areas of the city and ease the strain on the centre, and a 'locals first' policy on water buses, which began in April. 

But with visitor numbers having risen by five percent this year compared to 2015, the city is reaching breaking point and these efforts from the council seem to have done little to appease Venetians so far. 

Flyers reading 'Tourists go away!' appeared across the city in mid-August, at the height of the summer holiday season.

Those arriving in the city on large cruise ships have borne the brunt of local anger, with repeated protests organized by the Comitato No Grandi Navi (the 'No Big Ships Committee'), which argues that the movement of water from the large ships, as well as footfall from the day-trippers, causes damage to the city's historic buildings.

Meanwhile, Venice mayor Luigi Bragnaro has used his social media platforms to vent his despair at the petty crimes of some tourists, threatening unruly sorts with jail.

“I insist on introducing special powers to the city to uphold public order. Pickpockets, vandals, drunks! A night in the cells,” read one of his Tweets.

READ MORE: Venice and the perennial woe of unruly tourists


Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

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