As a way to curb an influx of destructive tourist-specific behavior, the city is implementing 12
#EnjoyRespectVenezia. That is the hashtag created by local authorities of the popular tourist destination of Venice, Italy. This simple yet authoritative message is directed to both domestic and international visitors who sometimes cause problems in this tiny city, ranging from congestion to disrespect of property.
The influx of visitors is more profound during the summer between the months of July and August. This huge number of visitors has quickly become a menace in the city to the point where the Venetian local authorities have established a department to seek for solutions to remedy this issue. One such remedy comes in the form of a new hashtag: #EnjoyRespectVenezia.
Tourism Has Impact on Local Residents
Many wonder why the influx of visitors is seen as a problem in the eyes of Venetian authorities. While most cities around the world are spending billions of dollars and engaging with top consultants to market their city and lure tourists, Venice does not have to spend a coin to be swarmed by visitors every year. In fact, in July and August alone, about 60,000 people visit the city every day. This number is astronomical by Venetian standards considering the entire city has a resident population of only 50,000 people. According to The Independent, tourists frequenting the nearby Adriatic beaches visit Venice after boredom sets in.
Some argue that the issue is not the flock of the tourists, but more the fact that these tourists do not actually appear to spend much money on their visits. Many carry packed lunches and spend time idling around the canals and bridges. In many instances, these visitors are linked to unnecessary overcrowding in numerous establishments, particularly in public transport. When the cost is the peace of the city, local Venetians worry that the city is not reaping the benefits necessary for excessive tourism to be worth it for them.
How Do You Change Tourist Behavior?
Other complaints seem to center around behavior that is often visitor-specific. One such behavior that has bothered Venetian authorities has been the “love locks” movement. Tourists, inspired by the romanticism attached to Venice, set up locked padlocks on the bridges in the city. An article in The BBC claims that as many as 20,000 padlocks have been removed from bridges in Venice. And the behavior is not always harmless, either. Tourists jumping off of the Rialto Bridge and onto boats is not unheard of.
So enters the idea of the 12 golden rules, pushed by Venetian authorities who are trying to encourage responsible travel. The campaign, which is available in ten languages, guides tourists with commands such as "do not swim in the canals", "do not pause too long on bridges", "do not litter", and "do not sightsee in bathing suits". The most important part of the rules, authorities say, is not the fact that they exist but instead the fact they will be enforced. Fines for those who disobey are between €25 to €500 (around $30 to $585 USD). Authorities are hopefully that in following through with these fines, it will prove to be a sufficient warning for all tourists visiting the city.
- By Benjamin Elisha Sawe