Can tourism in Venice be sustainable? This has probably become the most urgent question in the last few years. But before we go into the answer lets sum up the principles sustainable tourism is based on. Quoting the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) sustainable tourism should:
In other words sustainable tourism should allow the traveler to enjoy the chosen holiday destination. Travelers should do that in total respect of its society, environment and economy. The idea is that of visiting a place trying to really live its traditions and uses. Eating its food, buying its typical products, helping the businesses of its locals as well as admiring the beauties the chosen area has to offer.
As far as Venice is concerned, the combination of massive tourism and the reckless idea of turning the city into a money machine, has brought its authenticity down. It is more and more common to find shops selling shoddy goods and touristy traps providing terrible quality food. Sometimes if it is not that terrible, in any case it is not typical. The most classic example is the one of restaurants promising you the best carbonara, pasta al ragù, or pesto of your life. Although all of the above mantioned dishes are Italian, none of them is typical in Venice. The city finds itself in the middle of a lagoon which faces the sea, so traditional food here is fish. To find out what to eat in Venice, click here.
Moreover, many of the businesses in the city are not even held by Venetians. Many others, although held by locals, unfortunately pass the tourists the worst messages about Venetian traditions. For example, the shops selling bad glittery plastic masks! As a matter of fact the traditional Venetian mask is a papier-mache one, and it takes a lot of time and care to make one.
These were just some examples of how bad the situation has gone so far. So, to answer the initial question, yes tourism in Venice can be sustainable. How? Thanks to the collaboration of us tourism operators and you travelers and tourists! It is our job to help you finding the best options for an authentic Venetian experience. To explain you our traditions and uses. To guide you at the discovery of a better Venice. It is your job to respect the city by following our pieces of advice and by being aware of what to do and how to do it.
So, to sum up, here is a little list of suggestions for you to become the best sustainable tourists (even if we are sure that many of you already are! 🙂
We truly believe that if we establish this happy, long term collaboration between us locals and tourism operators and you, people who are coming to Venice to enjoy it and relax yourselves, the city can keep living and prospering in the centuries to come. It is very important that each one of us plays its own part or the city will soon be swallowed up by its own strongest source of income.