Tourism authorities in Venice want to exert a stricter control on the city’s tourism policy by gaining a special tourism city status from the Italian government. According to Simone Venturini, Deputy Mayor for Social Cohesion, Tourism, Economic Development, Labour and Housing Policies of the city of Venice, this would be the best way to let Venice move forward and become the high quality destination it wishes to be.

“We feel that we need to have a bigger say over our tourism evolution here in Venice.” The message from Mr Venturini is clear: The city of Venice needs to be the driver of its own economic development – and consequently its tourism.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and his Florence counterpart Dario Nardella have asked the Italian government to table legislation which would give both cities a special tourism status. “This special status would help us strike the right balance between our residents and our visitors or between tourism and other economic activities,” stresses Mr Venturini, adding, “We need to make Venice a living city again with projects and the capacity to be not just a destination for tourists only. This is very important to the survival of Venice.”

According to the current city council under Mayor Brugnaro, complacency from the previous municipality characterised tourism development in the past decades.

“We need to change so many things in the way we think tourism. Over-tourism has been a big issue in the past but the coronavirus crisis was also seen as an opportunity to look at our assets and weaknesses. We want to ‘reshape the diamond’ that Venice is. Our clear target is to attract high-end travellers. Quality over quantity is the task, and this can only be achieved with a new vision. Venice is a safe and sustainable destination. But also a ‘sexy’ one with its fashion or its design, ” said Mr Venturini.

Letting visitors stay longer

Venice's Deputy Mayor for Social Cohesion, Tourism, Economic Development, Labour and Housing Policies, Simone Venturini
Simone Venturini, Deputy Mayor for Social Cohesion, Tourism, Economic Development, Labour and Housing Policies of the city of Venice

Venice looks at having fewer tourists in the near future but of higher quality. Venturini says that he would love to see tourists not spending an average of 2.1 night but rather staying, 3, 4 or even 5 nights. The challenge is difficult. Venice recorded – prior to the pandemic – 20 million visitors per year. It then confirms its positioning as one of the top tourism cities in Europe. However, from that figure, only 5.52 million tourists generated 10 million overnights. Of that figure, international guests had a market share of 86.7%. However day visitors spend too little despite their foot print in town. little. A study demonstrated that the 1.6 million cruise travellers left only 19 euros in Venice on average in 2019.

According to Mr Venturini, new activities are now due to be promoted: outer districts where tourists can enjoy and discover the real life of Venetians; or traditional handicraft design. Venice has indeed managed to keep many talented creators showing their unique sense of artistry. “We also want to reinforce Venice as a major European centre of culture – including avant-garde. This would turn us into a world capital of the arts. We also want to be one of Europe’s fashion centres,” he adds.

Some progress has been made. The municipality has already pledged to invest €50 million to turn the Lido area into a more attractive area for MICE. The Lido is home to the Venice Film Festival but it could host more international events. Another important task is a new cruise port outside the historical centre and the use of bio diesel for all public boats to limit pollution. Who said Venice is not a living city?

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