Tourism has grown incessantly in the years since Covid, and it presents a peculiar conundrum if not properly managed, according to Marina Lalli, president of Italy’s National Federation of the Travel and Tourism Industry. “It becomes a lose-lose situation, both for tourists, who won’t be able to fully enjoy the place they visit, and for residents, because costs increase and finding a home becomes a serious problem,” she says, referring to the entire country, not only Venice.

The Cinque Terre National Park, for instance, welcomed four million visitors in 2023, an increase of one million from 2022. Francesco Villa, mayor of Vernazza, one of the most picturesque villages in Cinque Terre, says that they are glad to attract up to 2,500 daily tourists in a town that has only 750 residents because tourism has made them wealthy. But he also admits that very few residents leave their house and venture into town between 14:00 and 17:00. “We can still go for a walk out in the countryside or in our garden. It’s not ideal, but we accept it because it is extremely beneficial in other ways,” he says. The idyllic town of Vernazza also deals with a yearly average of two tons of waste per citizen, and the numbers are growing.

One of the Italian government’s priorities is to increase tourism even further, and to “turn our heritage into income”, says Minister for Tourism Daniela Santanchè, who doesn’t think that there are too many tourists; rather that the industry needs to be better organised, better managed and more profitable. “In Italy very often things are free or at very, very low prices,” she tells the BBC. “The Colosseum makes only a quarter of what the New York Museum of Natural History makes.”

She also believes that Italy needs to promote its smaller towns and de-seasonalise so visitors won’t only come in summer, but year round. This might prompt the question whether the future residents of Vernazza will ever be able to leave their homes – and if, in fact, country is being turned into a theme park. “People who say these things are only jealous of all the wonders of our country,” answers Santanchè. “We are an open-air museum; we have the most important Unesco sites in the world.” The minister also enumerates Italy’s unparalleled culture, unique food, marvellous nature and 5,600 little borghi (charming historic villages), concluding by saying that “the world wants Italy, a lot”.

Source link