DOCUMENTARY 2012 | 80 min
HD/35mm | 16:9
20 years ago, 125,000 people still lived in Venice, but today less than half as many remain, and the population dwindles every year by a few thousand more.
According to one study, there will be no more Venetians by the year 2030.
Indeed, the trend is to live outside the city, and every morning thousands of commuters travel from the mainland to Venice, where they work as chambermaids, waiters, bellhops and even gondolieri. The city itself is becoming a façade, an open-air museum, a Disneyland-style amusement park that is entirely left to the tourists.
This is a direct consequence of the mass tourism that the city has been subjected to for decades now. Every day, an average of 65,000 tourists flock to Venice, and during peak periods this figure rises to 400,000. Many of them arrive on board one of the cruise ships that daily pour some 10,000 people into the city.
The consequences are numerous: As the city’s population steadily decreases and the tourist monoculture continues to advance, infrastructure that is essential for the inhabitants’ survival gradually disappears. Public markets, supermarkets, and many shops that sell everyday items are closing their doors. Even cinemas are going out of business. And although the number of inhabitants constantly declines, real estate prices continue to rise. The buildings are used for commercial purposes, or sold to outsiders as secondary residences.
The city’s buildings are severely affected by the vibrations from the cruise ship engines. This creates cracks in masonry and bridges, water penetrates, and the walls become porous. The big ships are not entirely responsible for the growing size and force of the waves however; the increased motor traffic on the canals of Venice that is generated by the city’s many hotels is too much for the old walls.
What’s more, the remaining city residents hardly benefit from even the positive impact of tourism. Of the €1.5 billion annual tourism revenue, only a minute portion flows back into city coffers – and is then used to cart away the mountains of refuse that the influx of visitors leave behind. Most of the money flows into the pockets of international tour operators.