Venice threatened by rising tide

Sunday, 12 May, 2019

The rising tide of tourism, that is. The current inflow is 25 million tourists a year and this number is projected to reach 38 million by 2025. Still Venice is remarkably resilient. The city has lasted a millennium and what makes it all the more extraordinary is that a lagoon is a temporary natural phenomenon, but the reason Venice’s lagoon hasn’t silted is centuries of careful management, technical innovation and commercial regulation.

The same solutions can be applied to tourism. Take accommodation. Since 2015, Airbnb rentals in Venice have tripled from 2,441 to 8,320, according to Airdna. Eighty percent of those are entire home rentals, many of which are owned by agencies or international investors. With the launch of Fairbnb, a not-for-profit home-sharing site that only accepts resident hosts and stipulates one home per host, an alternative is available.

Nicolò Scibilia says, “Venice is not just a stage set. It is also a city with a resident population, which has productive activities, transportation and services. But how does the ‘Venice system’ work? How do the tides in the lagoon behave? How are the canals formed? And the embankments? What’s under the buildings?” The canals, sewers, buildings and bridges have been designed to cope with an environment that’s constantly challenged by salt water, but Venice survives. It can survive tourism, too.


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