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3. Transformation of Venice into a Museum-City 

 

Tourism in Venice.gif
Tourism in Venice
Venice is a dream city, where one cannot imagine leading a "normal" life. Yet the normal life of the city is essential for its survival. It may be prosaic to admit that Venetians live in their city, go about their normal business and engage in all kinds of work, but this is in fact vital to its existence.

The declining number of inhabitants

Venice is losing its inhabitants at a growing rate.

In the 1950s, it had 175,000 inhabitants, whereas forecasts for the year 2000 indicate a population of 40,000.

Seventy-one per cent of those who leave are young people (under 45 years of age), who say that they are leaving reluctantly owing to the pressure of unavoidable factors.

The special nature of the town fabric creates real difficulties which people cope with relatively well or badly, depending on the circumstances.

For example, industries have trouble in finding reasonably priced premises of a suitable size, with services that are not too expensive. They therefore hesitate to establish themselves, given the difficulties of access for users and customers. The lagoon has become a factor of separation from the mainland, which is a handicap.

Despite the encouraging efforts made by public service systems, and Venice’s excellent image, firms prefer not to take any risks. This has an immediate impact on unemployment, which rose noticeably between 1981 and 1991.

Outstanding departures have included those of the headquarters of the insurance group Assicurazioni Generali (2,000 jobs), the provincial branches of several banks, the printing press of the daily "Il Gazzettino" and the Italian airline Alitalia.

Individuals have the same difficulties as firms in moving to Venice. The faults they find with housing quality (lack of space, modern conveniences and light; the drawbacks of the acque alte and the absence of proper sanitation; heating problems; not being able to have one’s car handy) frequently mean that they go elsewhere.

The high cost of these unsuitable dwellings is another decisive factor. The constant need to carry out rehabilitation work, and the obligation to have recourse to expensive traditional methods of construction discourage owners. Rented premises are rare and expensive.

The consequences for the city are grievous.
In the first place, Venice appears to be abandoned: in winter, the town is dead, there are no signs of life and some districts are permanently empty. This accelerates the deterioration process. Venice lives only in summer, thanks to tourism.

The social structure is also changing: the working population is declining steeply, and the middle class is disappearing.

But the most noticeable social consequence is the ageing of the population. The age group 0 to 19 is underrepresented, and in 1991 the average age was 45.5 years.

Venice is a dream city, where one cannot imagine leading a "normal" life. Yet the normal life of the city is essential for its survival. It may be prosaic to admit that Venetians live in their city, go about their normal business and engage in all kinds of work, but this is in fact vital to its existence.

The declining number of inhabitants

Venice is losing its inhabitants at a growing rate.

In the 1950s, it had 175,000 inhabitants, whereas forecasts for the year 2000 indicate a population of 40,000.

Seventy-one per cent of those who leave are young people (under 45 years of age), who say that they are leaving reluctantly owing to the pressure of unavoidable factors.

The special nature of the town fabric creates real difficulties which people cope with relatively well or badly, depending on the circumstances.

For example, industries have trouble in finding reasonably priced premises of a suitable size, with services that are not too expensive. They therefore hesitate to establish themselves, given the difficulties of access for users and customers. The lagoon has become a factor of separation from the mainland, which is a handicap.

Despite the encouraging efforts made by public service systems, and Venice’s excellent image, firms prefer not to take any risks. This has an immediate impact on unemployment, which rose noticeably between 1981 and 1991.

Outstanding departures have included those of the headquarters of the insurance group Assicurazioni Generali (2,000 jobs), the provincial branches of several banks, the printing press of the daily "Il Gazzettino" and the Italian airline Alitalia.

Individuals have the same difficulties as firms in moving to Venice. The faults they find with housing quality (lack of space, modern conveniences and light; the drawbacks of the acque alte and the absence of proper sanitation; heating problems; not being able to have one’s car handy) frequently mean that they go elsewhere.

The high cost of these unsuitable dwellings is another decisive factor. The constant need to carry out rehabilitation work, and the obligation to have recourse to expensive traditional methods of construction discourage owners. Rented premises are rare and expensive.

The consequences for the city are grievous.

In the first place, Venice appears to be abandoned: in winter, the town is dead, there are no signs of life and some districts are permanently empty. This accelerates the deterioration process. Venice lives only in summer, thanks to tourism.

The social structure is also changing: the working population is declining steeply, and the middle class is disappearing.

But the most noticeable social consequence is the ageing of the population. The age group 0 to 19 is underrepresented, and in 1991 the average age was 45.5 years.

A simplified economy

There is increasing concentration on the tertiary sector, since there is no way of developing industry or agriculture in Venice.

Between 1988 and 1996, the population exodus resulted in a 20 per cent fall in the volume of consumer goods for sale. In addition, supply difficulties, the dwindling number of shops, rising costs and a decline in quality have encouraged the rapid growth of large supermarkets from terra firma.

This is a vicious circle, since it discourages the development of new businesses. Stable activities are dwindling, and odd-jobs in the tourist industry are lowering the level of professional employment.

The different public and semi-public bodies in the region and the province still have a foothold in the historic centre, but the centre is losing out to Mestre. All family services are now established on terra firma.

What remains is tourism, a hugely prosperous sector for Venice, which generates both wealth and disaster.

In 1994, almost 10 million visitors invaded the city, i.e. 107 tourists per year per inhabitant. This influx does not appear likely to recede, since the forecasts for 2005 are 15 million tourists.

A simplified economy

There is increasing concentration on the tertiary sector, since there is no way of developing industry or agriculture in Venice.

Between 1988 and 1996, the population exodus resulted in a 20 per cent fall in the volume of consumer goods for sale. In addition, supply difficulties, the dwindling number of shops, rising costs and a decline in quality have encouraged the rapid growth of large supermarkets from terra firma.

This is a vicious circle, since it discourages the development of new businesses. Stable activities are dwindling, and odd-jobs in the tourist industry are lowering the level of professional employment.

The different public and semi-public bodies in the region and the province still have a foothold in the historic centre, but the centre is losing out to Mestre. All family services are now established on terra firma.

What remains is tourism, a hugely prosperous sector for Venice, which generates both wealth and disaster.

In 1994, almost 10 million visitors invaded the city, i.e. 107 tourists per year per inhabitant. This influx does not appear likely to recede, since the forecasts for 2005 are 15 million tourists.


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