Venice is one of my favourite cities. Where else in the world can you get lost in a cities streets and not have to worry about finding your way back to your hotel? Which other city has no roads so you stand more chance of drowning than you do of being run down by a car? Venice is an eclectic mix of bustling alleyways, fantastic but often expensive cafes and restaurants as well as awesome architecture and culture. If you have never been to Venice then you should because it’s unique, and it’s not true that the smell of sewage is overpowering. In fact I have been to Venice several times and I have never smelt sewage!
One downside of Venice though is that it is very very popular. 20 million tourists visit Venice every year but only half sleep there. It’s a city of daytime visitors, many visitors arriving in the city by cruise ship. Venice is in fact the cruise capital of Europe. These tourism visitors bring in much needed tourism employment and other tourism earnings but the result is that few Italians can afford to live in Venice full time because property prices are so expensive. The population of Venice is declining and many residents are converting their apartments into holiday apartments and renting them out through agents such as the online agent Airbnb. Property prices in Venice are so expensive that even gondaliers who earn on average £95,000 a year can’t afford to rent a decent sized apartment. Thirty years ago 120,000 people lived in Venice but that figure has now dropped to about 55,000.
Many people are also worried about the environmental effects of tourism on Venice, especially from those tourists arriving by cruise ship. In 2014 cruise ships were banned from entering the Venice Lagoon but this decision was overturned several months later. Venetian officials are involved in a corruption scandal so the decision might well change again although there is no denying that cruise ships spoil the skyline as they sail very close to St Marks Square itself. Some would say that it’s a spectacular sight but other critics say that cruise ships are speeding up the destruction of Venice which experts say might well be fully underwater in 80 years time despite the Venetian authorities spending 5 billion Euros on flood defences.
I took this photo of a cruise ship sailing in Venice last year. Make up your own minds whether it’s a good sight or one that should be banned.
I prefer to see Venice without cruise ships and this is a photo I took that shows Venice as it should be.