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Founded in the 5th century and spread over 118 small islands, Venice is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world's greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and others. Venice and its lagoon were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1987.
The idea of a sustainable tourism is strictly connected with the cultural, historical and geographical peculiarity of Venice. Its fragile beauty, its cultural complexity, the fascination of a visible and “livable” tie between antiquity and modernity, as well as between Orient and Occident, rely on a very delicate balance. This balance, considering the numerical disproportion between inhabitants and visitors, could be upset by mass tourism. We could say that the effect of a unique and undeniable attractive beauty is destroying its cause. We think that sustainable tourism is a possible remedy, an essential help for preserving the precarious balance underlying the unique atmosphere of Venice.
What is Sustainable tourism?
Sustainable tourism is tourism committed on the one hand to generating a low impact on the surrounding environment and community by acting responsibly and on the other hand it is committed to generating income and employment for the local economy, aiding social cohesion. Undoubtedly, it is getting harder and harder to reconcile the need of generating income for the local economy and at the same time preserving the environment. Too little tourism and the city cannot live. Too much tourism and the city cannot live the same. We think that the solution has to be a different kind of tourism.
What does sustainable tourism mean in practice?
- Seasonal and geographical distribution: a more even spread of visitors reduces pressure on natural environments and on communities, and maximises the economic benefits. Venice tailors its marketing campaign to encourage a spread of visitors throughout the year and around the country, e.g. Detourism campaign.
- Greener transport: Transport is central to tourism, but it also weighs upon natural resources and influences our global environmental impact. Venice encourages visitors to use public transport and innovative development of cleaner forms of transport.
- Understanding the impacts: We need to work with partners to measure the environmental and social impacts of tourism, in order to ensure that tourism development brings a positive experience for local people, tourism companies and the tourists themselves (e.g. ETIS project).
- Greener accommodation: All accommodation providers should minimize their waste of energy and water use. The City of Venice encourages businesses to reduce their environmental impact (Venezia Sostenibile certification).
A sustainable approach to tourism benefits both the city and its visitors. Visitors benefit from a sustainable approach to tourism through better links with local communities, a high quality tourism experience and a natural and built environment that is cared for. Becoming a sustainable tourism destination will give Venetian tourism businesses a competitive edge by generating greater community support for tourism, achieving cost savings and creating new marketing opportunities.
The City Council of Venice is actively promoting a sustainable tourism. We are developing dedicated projects such as:
- DETOURISM campaign
- FUORIROTTA, the eco-friendly and fair-trade Venice map & guide
- REFILL VENICE campaign
The DETOURISM campaign run by the Tourism Department of the City of Venice promotes slow and sustainable tourism, encouraging travellers to go beyond the usual tourist sights, stumble upon unique experiences and see Venice with new eyes. Becoming a “detourist”, you can discover what the guidebooks don’t tell you. You will leave the beaten track and experience unexpected encounters. The main message of the #DETOURISM campaign is that the best way to discover the true soul of the city and to experience Venice as the Venetians do is getting off the main path and wandering away from the well-trodden tourist routes.
#DETOURISM offers travel tips for a Sustainable Venice and suggests what to see and where to go in Venice to get a more local look at the city. The #DETOURISM campaign gets its messages across different media such as websites, a thematic city map, a web magazine, a weekly newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube.
FUORIROTTA (Off-course i.e. Detour) is the other map of Venice for ethical, responsible and eco-friendly tourism. Fuorirotta can be used as a real guide to get around in the city and discover eco-friendly, cultural and local-oriented initiatives, enjoy parks and natural areas, eat organic and zero miles food, shop in craftsmen’s and fair trade shops. You can simply download “Fuorirotta” at www.veneziaunica.it or www.comune.venezia.it. There is also the online version of the map on Google map. Copies of the map are available at the locations indicated on the map.
The map includes an eco-etiquette which contains useful advice for travelers:
- avoid peak visitor periods and choose slow season to visit Venice
- visit the city on foot or use local transport
- be careful not to drag your trolley on the bridges because it can damage the steps if your suitcase has got wheels avoid pulling it over the steps of the bridges in Venice as it can wear out the steps and cause serious damage to bridge structures.
- dress in a proper manner, always walk on the right when in narrow alleys; no standing on bridges and when you are on vaporettos please put your backpack on the ground
- Reduce wastage of plastic bottles, and pollution in the city. Garbage collection is very expensive: drink tap water instead of bottled water. it's cheaper, eco-friendly, and there is no waste.
In particular, the map shows the location of more than 100 drinking fountains across Venice and it encourages the use of tap water and the re-use of one’s own water bottles in order to reduce plastic waste and to minimise environmental impact.
The Venice City Council is implementing the REFILL VENICE campaign. Tourists are recommended to refill their bottles at the public drinking fountains for reuse. The Fuorirotta map is sold together with an empty plastic bottle at some of the snack and drink vending machines in Venice. Trash in Venice has to be collected on foot which is labor intensive and expensive. Men with wheelbarrows cruise the alleys and canals collecting trash. A large number of plastic bottles ends up in the canals each day.
Venezia, Roma, Milano, Firenze, Napoli and Rimini together for the sustainability and competitiveness of tourism. The City of Venice together with some of the main tourist destinations in Italy at the of end of 2013 signed the Memorandum of understandings for the creation of the network "Great Italian Destinations for Sustainable Tourism (GIDST)" aimed at developing sustainable tourism. It represents the first step for the development of a wider network, on national and international scale, of the main mass tourism destinations committed to sustainable tourism.