Venice – Locals hit back on the Grand Canal
For years now, we’ve heard the City of Venice complain about the hordes of tourists that invade and crowd out their beautiful city. The Venetians are particularly offended by badly dressed day trippers who flock into the city, use their facilities, take up their space, breath their air, but don’t contribute anything to their economy at all. I recall an article some time back when the city’s major complained about budget travellers who brought their own sandwiches and drinks in plastic bags and apart from using up their resources, they also thrash up the environment.
The truth is that budget tourists are not likely to be bothered by the city’s grizzling and the tourist boom continues. Some 20 million people visit Venice each year – quite staggering really, when compared to only 60,000 residents in the historic centre. It’s no wonder that the residents feel swamped. Various discussions and proposals to stem the tide of visitors to Venice include, limiting access to the historic center to imposing a tourism tax, however such measures are difficult to implement as well as being unpopular with tourism industry workers.
Well, it seems that the City of Venice is striking back. Yesterday, the Director General of the Venice Transport Authority announced a new Grand Canal waterbus line here with one particular feature: Day-tripper tourists are not allowed! The new line is strictly reserved for holders of the Carta Venezia pass. As a visitor, you can buy of of the Carta Venezia, but it’s only sensible to do so if you are going to be a repeat visitor to Venice. The Carta Venezia costs Euro 40 for non-residents and is valid for three years. This special waterbus service for residents should pacify the natives, but one wonders how long this is going to remain viable considering the small local population.
Frankly, the numbers of times that we’ve been to Venice and taken numerous rides on the Grand Canal, we’ve never felt that we were packed in like sardines. During peak hours of course the vaporettos are more crowded and may mean that you don’t get a seat, but hey that’s no big deal!