Hit team to ‘educate’ tourists in Venice

Venice City Councillor Carla Rey held a press conference at 11 am on 11 May 2012 to inaugurate a team of 15 stewards and hostesses who will ‘educate’ tourists in and near St Mark’s Square. Although the City Council press release was careful to stress that they will educate tourists and citizens, its title focused on tourists:

Hostess e stewart in Piazza San Marco per sensibilizzare i turisti, domani ore 11 firma del protocollo d'intesa

Moreover, the project’s objective was clearly directed at tourists, stating “We live in the city: you are in St Mark’s Square.” This can only add to growing divisions between citizens and tourists in the city, reinforced by City Council policies like separate water bus and Wi-fi services depending on city residency. Venice City Council seems ignorant of the fact that we are all people and most of us are residents of somewhere and tourists somewhere at sometime too!

But the City Council is not only to blame for reinforcing such divisions. The project is funded by cruise ship company Costa Crociere in a clear attempt to dissipate the mounting criticisms of cruise ships and their passengers. The project is also supported by the St Mark’s Square Association.

And what will these 15 stewards and hostesses do? According to an article by Giampaolo Bonzio in local newspaper Il Gazzettino di Venezia published on 27 April 2012, they will educate tourists in how to keep St Mark’s Square clean and not to lie on the ground or feed the pigeons:

Hostess a San Marco contro i bivacchi e il degrado: paga la Costa Crociere

What a condescending and divisive initiative!

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