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Concerns about future, identity grow in Venice amid influx of tourists

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-10-07 09:55

With almost every street, bridge, historic building and canal bustling with tourists and gondolas, a locally traditional rowing boat, some Venetians finally started to feel enough of it.

The inflow of visitors to the northeastern Italian city known for its layout in lagoon has been exponentially growing in the last 10 years to the current estimated at least 60,000 arrivals each day.

In particular for its old city, which boasted no more than 55,000 people in 2016 but is the most visited, the massive influx of tourists undoubtedly brought inconvenience to the local residents, among which the concerns for their city's future and its identity started growing.

As latest as in July, local citizens took to the streets to show their fears that the massive touristic inflow, coupled with an exodus of native people, would make Venice wane from its original characteristics.

The latest rally saw no more than 2,000 protesters, yet they represented feelings largely shared.

"I agree with them, because tourism has been constantly increasing, and residents have kept dropping in the last 20 years," says Venetian architect Fabrizio Boscolo, "Thus, the city's economy is fully tourism-oriented, and its identity has been eroded."

Indeed, Venice's population has been in decline for decades-from some 174,000 in 1951 to 104,000 in 1975, and 55,583 in 2015-according to the city's statistical office.

Many believe the mass tourism is contributing to this trend in many ways: pushing up rents and prices of basic goods, dominating local activities, and partly weakening artisanal traditions.

Overall, the large metropolitan city (including the belt around the lagoon city) registered over 34 million tourists in 2015, according to the latest report available from Venice's tourism department. Yet, it was Venice's historical center to receive over 65 percent of them.

"Our daily life has indeed become harder, for example in terms of local transports, which are overloaded, and other basic services," says 74-year-old Alba, who was born in Venice and spent all of her life in the water city.

"Our wonderful artisan workshops have disappeared from the center," she said.

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