Venice segregates tourists and residents
Following last week’s initiation of different water bus entrances for tourists and residents, a debate has raged about creating separate tourist and resident water bus services.
For 4.5 hours a day, the water bus stop at Rialto introduced an entrance reserved for residents and another for tourists from 26 July to run until October. By 29 July, the impact at the Rialto water bus stop was “chaos”, according to an article on that day by Gloria Bertasi in the regional newspaper Corriere del Veneto.
Then the Union of Christian and Centre Demcrats (UDC) political party proposed going a step further with separate water bus services for tourists and residents. “We don’t want to ghettoize tourism, but to reduce congestion on the lines 1 and 2 and 3 to give visitors an excellent service as in European capitals,” remarked UDC Councillor Simone Venturini and UDC Provincial Secretary Luca Scalabrin.
Venice Mayor, Giorgio Orsoni, rejected this proposal. “Transport in Venice should simply be managed at its best and, as in all cities in the world, this is done with more services, not ghettoization.” Given it was Venice that invented the ghetto, many Venetians are sensitive to accusations of segregating people. Yet Orsoni quickly capitulated, suggesting a separate ‘art water bus” service for tourists to reduce congestion. Who could object to segregation in favour of culture? This idea was then endorsed on 3 August by Cristiano Chiarot, Superintendent of Venice’s Fenice Theatre, as reported in the Venice newspaper La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre here: La Cultura e il Vaporetto dell\'arte. It remains to be seen whether this proposal goes ahead. But it seems likely because in Venice the trend is towards increasing differentiation between tourists and residents. The above proposals follow the introduction of different prices for tourist and resident use of water buses and the city-wide Internet Wi-fi that is free for residents, but not for visitors to Venice.
Although Venice has been very crowded in recent weeks during one of the busiest periods of the tourist season, the problem is that solutions remain at the level of redirecting tourist flows. One of the more bizarre of such suggestions was the idea of Provincial President Francesca Zaccariotto to make Venice’s alleyways ‘one-way’ for walkers.
Tourism in Venice needs to be improved through development of infrastructure. One of the most straightforward solutions to over-crowding on Venice’s water buses and in alleyways is to construct a subway train service. The would enable Venice to embrace tourists as resources to help the city prosper instead of segregating them from residents.