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Venice should prioritize families before tourism, says the city’s archbishop


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Zelda Caldwell - published on 08/03/21

The government’s recent ban on cruise ships is a good start, said Archbishop Francesco Moraglia

Now that Italy has banned cruise ships from Venice’s waters, the lagoon city is on its way to becoming “the world capital of sustainability,” says Archbishop Francesco Moraglia, who called for making the city more affordable for its residents.

The historic city is in crisis as mass tourism threatens to displace its residents, and turn Venice into something akin to Disney World — a popular destination rather than a functioning city. In 2019 as many a record 25 million tourists visited Venice. And the increase in visitors comes at a steep price — about 1,000 Venetians leave for good each year.

Over-tourism threatens Venice

After UNESCO threatened to put Venice, a protected world heritage site, on its endangered list, the government banned cruise ships larger than 25,000 tons from docking in its waters. Veneto officials have also proposed a plan to reboot its tourist industry in a way that would make the city more livable for its residents.  The plan would limit day-trippers, increase the number of permanent residents, encourage startups, limit private apartment rentals, and protect Venice’s artisans, according to an ABCNews report.

Archbishop Moraglia told Vatican News that the city should prioritize the needs of families and the elderly over tourism, reported Catholic News Service.

“The risk is (the city) becomes just a container that offers opportunities for events and exhibitions, just a huge stage. The real challenge for Venice is remaining a livable city,” he said.

“I believe that this city, besides becoming the world capital of sustainability, could truly become a study in the church’s social teachings,” Moraglia told Vatican News.

A plan for sustainable tourism

As much as over-tourism has created woes for Venice, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed just how dependent the city is on its visitors. Lost revenue hit tourism-dependent businesses hard, and even public transport had to be reduced without a steady flow of tourists to help pay its way, according to the ABCNews story.

A proposal for a more sustainable tourism would require “diverting tourists to new destinations, encouraging more over-night stays, discouraging day trips and enabling the repopulation of the city with new residents,” according to the report.

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