Checkpoint Venice for tourists

November 29, 1996

A TOURIST checkpoint for entry to Venice is among suggestions from the city's Ca' Foscari University for use during the 2000 Jubilee and Holy Year celebrations.

Left-wing mayor Massimo Cacciari, who is a professor of philosophy at Ca' Foscari, wants visits booked in advance to prevent overcrowding and a checkpoint on the bridge linking Venice to the mainland. The study says between 22,000 and 25,000 is the number of daily visitors that Venice can comfortably handle.

Millions of extra visitors are expected in Italy in the year 2000. Rome will be the main venue for Holy Year pilgrims, but cities like Florence and Venice will also be affected. The Veneto region has strong and deep-rooted Catholic traditions and is also directly in the path of the millions of Catholic visitors expected to pour into Italy from eastern Europe.

Study author Paolo Costa, rector of Ca' Foscari. said: "We analysed the number of visitors that can see key places like the Basilica of St Mark, and the accommodation in hotels."

High prices and the number of hotel rooms do not affect the number of tourists because most are day-trippers, he said.

"We could not simply keep day visitors out because it would infringe their right to free movement. Our plan consists of incentives to encourage visitors to book their visit to Venice in advance."

The city plans include discounts on water buses, meal tickets, and guaranteed access to museums and other tourist attractions. "Today, it is quite possible to programme the flow of tourists from anywhere in Europe, which would make life easier for both the tourists and the city of Venice," says Professor Costa.

"It would be unthinkable to, say, double the number of hotels, because this would take space away from housing and schools which Venice desperately needs to continue existing as a living city."

Professor Costa has carried out similar studies for Unesco to analyse the flow of tourism in Amsterdam, Oxford, Salzburg, Aix en Provence and Bruges.

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