TED Case Studies

Venice and Tourism

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          CASE NUMBER:          79 
          CASE MNEMONIC:      VENICE
          CASE NAME:          Venice Tourism Pollution


1.        The Issue

     Venice was among three cities being considered to hold
Expo 2000, a four month world exposition welcoming in the new
century.  The exposition would bring in an estimated 200,000
visitors per day.  There was question, however, as to whether
Expo 2000 would be a net economic stimulus for Venice or
whether the event's environmental impact would cause
irreparable ecological damage.  The Venetian regional
government spent approximately $750,000 on a feasibility study,
whose conclusions left city officials opposed hosting Expo
2000.  Eventually, the Expo was held elsewhere.

2.        Description

     Tourism has been part of the life of Venice for centuries. 
However, in the last thirty years, Venice has faced grave
problems due to the tremendous volume of tourists each year. 
Some fear that Venice will turn into a museum as its residents
flee to the mainland.  One problem is the fact that many
tourists come to Venice on tour buses and spend little or no
money on hotels and restaurants.  Moreover, tourism adds to the
overcrowding and litter.  Efforts to control the flow of
tourists into the city led to rumors in 1990 that Venice would
put quotas on the number of visitors that could enter the

     Officials have considered several proposals to control the
traffic flows into Venice, including issuing one day passes
valid for items such as car parks and canal transport in order
to prevent tourists from waiting on long lines.  Another
innovative idea is to have computer hookups that allow
potential visitors to know how crowded the city is.  That such
measures are being discussed indicates the severity of the

     Italy's foreign minister, Gianni De Michelis, in 1990, led
the campaign to host Expo 2000.  The advocates of the plan, the
Venice 2000 Consortium, was led by Mr. De Michelis's brother
Cesare, and backed by 40 companies including Fiat, Benetton,
Olivetti, and Coca-Cola and Ferruzzi Finanziaria S.p.A.  They
argued that this would held Venice's economic revival,
including improvements in telecommunication and transportation
infrastructure.  Further, they also proposed a computerized
system to regulate the flow of tourists into Venice and argued
that visitors should be charged for a "Venice-card" to enter
the city, thereby bringing revenue.  

     On the other side of the spectrum, the Mayor of Venice,
backed by residents, art historians, and preservationists
worldwide, led the opposition to holding the expo.  Even
without the expo, Venice is inundated each summer with roughly
100,000 tourists per day.  The result: overcrowding of the
streets, excessive garbage, and destruction of monuments,
causing residents to flee the island at an alarming rate of
1,500 per year.  The exposition would double the amount of peak
season tourism in Venice, more than likely, doubling the
problems associated with tourism.

3.        Related Cases

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     Keyword Clusters         

     (1): Trade Product            = TOURism
     (2): Domain                   = EUROPE
     (3): Environmental Problem    = Pollution Air [POLA]

4.        Draft Author:  Jackie Arrol

B.        LEGAL Clusters

5.        Discourse and Status:  DISagreement and COMPlete 

6.        Forum and Scope:  ITALY and NGO 

     The Italian government made the decision to withdraw
Venice's candidacy from the Expo 2000.  Had they not withdrawn
the application, the final decision would have been entrusted
with the International Bureau of Expositions (BIE), a Paris
based Intergovernmental Agency, to vote on a site for Expo
2000.  At the same time, the European Parliament voted in May
of 1990 to call Italy to withdraw its candidacy.  The European
Community Environment Commissioner, Italian Carlo Ripa di Mean,
demanded full environmental studies for the plan.  These and
other environmental groups pressured the Italian government
into their decision.

7.        Decision Breadth:  47 (BIE members)

     Although the Italian government made the decision, many
countries were affected.  City residents and government
officials of Venice were affected the most as were all of the
47 members of the International Bureau of Expositions (B.I.E.)
were effected and Hannover and Toronto, two other cities
competing to host the Expo.  Local and other businesses,
particularly those in the Venice 2000 Consortium, (Fiat,
Benetton and Ferruzzi Finanziaria), lost potential profits.  On
the other hand, private organizations working through the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (Save Venice, Inc., Venice in Peril Fund, World
Monuments Fund, etc.) won a small victory for their efforts to
preserve Venice's priceless monuments and artwork.

8.        Legal Standing:  NGO

     Due to the mounting opposition both internally and
externally (i.e., the European Economic Community, and external
preservationists), Italian Prime Minister Andreotti withdrew
Venice as a candidate for the Expo 2000.  

C.        GEOGRAPHIC Clusters

9.        Geographic Locations

     a.   Geographic Domain : EUROPE
     b.   Geographic Site   : Southern Europe [SEUR]
     c.   Geographic Impact : ITALY

10.       Sub-National Factors:  YES

     The roles of the Venetian and the Italian governments were
very much a part of the dispute.

11.       Type of Habitat:  TEMPerate

D.        TRADE Clusters

12.       Type of Measure:  Regulatory Ban [REGBAN]

13.       Direct vs. Indirect Impacts:  INDirect

     Although this measure did not ban tourists, it would not
attract the same level of visitors to Venice as the Expo.

14.       Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact

     a.  Directly Related     : YES  TOURism
     b.  Indirectly Related   : YES  HOTEL, etc. 
     c.  Not Related          : NO
     d.  Process Related      : YES  Pollution Air [POLA]

     The decision to withdraw Venice as a candidate for Expo
2000 affected future tourism in Venice.  The tourism industry
brings in tremendous amounts of revenue to the city.  Further
environmental damage and overcrowding would have hurt Venice's
image as a tourist destination.  It could also led to a greater
impact on the physical environment, perhaps contributing to the
sinking of Venice.

15.       Trade Product Identification:  TOURism

     Tourism is by far the largest source of revenue to the
Venetian economy bringing in close to one and one half billion
per year (1986 figures).

16.       Economic Data

17.       Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness:  BAN

     When looking at the isolated case of the Expo 2000, trade
was effectively prohibited because business opportunities were
eliminated.  On the other hand, one could argue that over the
long run trade was actually enhanced by protecting the Venetian
environment.  Expo 2000 could have severely damaged the
physical environment, warding off much of Venice's potential
future tourism industry.

18.       Industry Sector:  TOURism

     From small family-owned shops to the larger businesses,
the tourism industry generates economic benefits for Venice.

19.       Exporter and Importer:  ITALY and MANY

E.        ENVIRONMENT Clusters

20.       Environmental Problem Type:  Pollution Sea [POLS]

     Flooding of the polluted Venetian canals and lagoons is
perceived to be the greatest environmental threat to Venice,
followed by erosion caused by a high moisture content in the
air.  Historically, travel and tourism considered by most to be
merely a nuisance.  This view changed during the summer of
1989; mass tourism is now recognized as one of the greatest
threats to the city of Venice.

     On July 15, 1989, a Pink Floyd concert was held on a
temporary floating stage facing St. Mark's Square. 
Approximately 200,000 fans crowded the square for the rock
concert, many of them camping out for two days prior to the
concert and leaving trash everywhere.  Venice was overcrowded
and completely unprepared, lacking public toilets. 
Additionally, some fans climbed up ornate 6th-century pillars,
chipping off parts of the carvings and leaving marks from their
shoes and boots.  It took three days and the assistance of
the Italian army to clean up the mess.  Three years later,
and $46,000 later, the pillars were restored largely through
contributions from Save Venice.  Although a great deal of the
erosion of the pillars had been caused by weathering, the
damage from the rock fans was not taken lightly by Venetians,
preservationists, and art historians alike.  

      In  addressing the European Monuments Forum in 1990, John
Norwich, co-founder of Venice in Peril Fund  discussed the Pink
Floyd concert that "rocked" the city.  In order to further
demonstrate the severity of the damage tourism cause in Venice
and other cities, Norwich discussed a more typical day in
Venice in 1987 when 66,000 tourists mobbed the city.  "So
overwhelmed was the Venice infrastructure that local
authorities finally had to close the causeway linking the city
to the mainland."  Norwich has long recognized  what he
considers to be a more insidious threat to Venice and other
cities than floods and acid rain: tourism pollution.  Norwich
notes that large numbers of tourists erode buildings and "over
the years, millions of hands caressing the little statues along
the basin in Venice have smoothed them to the point where
certain features are virtually unrecognizable."  Many of the
one-day visitors contribute little to Venice's economy.

     Each year an estimated 7 million tourists visit Venice,
whose infrastructure is insufficient for the number of
visitors.  Venice is plagued by too many tourists and suburban
flight of residents at an alarming rate of 1,500 residents each
year.  Peter Fergusson, vice-chairman of the Boston chapter of
Save Venice, notes that the population has been reduced
drastically because of the lack of jobs, and "vacated
apartments have been bought up by foreigners as vacation
homes...[which] has driven up real estate prices and devastated
the economic infrastructure of small, family-owned shops." 
Some fear that Venice will turn into a museum as its residents
flee to the mainland.  

     Spiraling rents, unruly crowds, increasing pollution
     and a lack of shops except for those catering to
     tourist have cut the city's population to barely
     75,000 from about 200,000 at the height of Venice's
     power in the 16th century.

     Venice is visited primarily for its art history, but the
city's attractiveness has been cheapened by the over-crowding
on the city's streets and canals.  Efforts to control the flow
of tourists into the city led to rumors in 1990 that Venice was
to put quotas on the number of visitors that could enter the
city.  Recently, Venice has witnessed a flood of Eastern
Europeans, who arrive by bus and spend little money.  City
officials reported that one day, 60,000 Czechoslovaks poured
into the city in 1,200 buses.  In summary, the major
environmental problems include the following.

     (1)  Pollution, Land:  caused largely by the massive
     amounts of tourists, land pollution is one of the
     primary areas of concern.
     (2)  Pollution, water:  the lagoon has become more
     polluted due to litter, caused in part by tourists,
     and from illegal sewage dumping from overloaded
     (3)  Pollution, air:  bus and car pollution from
     tourists causes species loss and destruction of
     monuments, buildings and artwork.

21.       Name, Type, and Diversity of Species 

     Name:          Many
     Type:          Many
     Diversity:     1,820 higher plants per
                    10,000 km/sq (Italy)

     There will be a loss of marine life (crabs, mussels, plant
life and other fisheries) resulting from pollution of lagoons. 
Further, the long history of art and architecture are at risk
from the tourists.

22.       Resource Impact and Effect:  LOW and SCALE

23.       Urgency and Lifetime:  LOW and 100s of years

     Although the Expo 2000 case was resolved, the everyday
problem of excessive tourism in Venice remains.  The groups
working to preserve the integrity of Venice still have much to
do.  The questions raised by the Expo, such as providing a
subway to Venice, requiring visitor cards and using the revenue
to preserve Venice, still have to be answered.  The pollution
problems in Venice from mass tourism and lagoon pollution are
still critical issues that require long term planning.  

24.       Substitutes:  Eco-Tourism [ECOTR]

VI.       OTHER Factors

25.       Culture:  YES

     The old structures of Venice are symbols of cultural
heritage for many Venetians to the people.

26.       Trans-Border: NO

     Given the city's vicinity to the Croatian and Slovenian
borders, this may become a trans-border problem.

27.       Human Rights: NO

28.       Relevant Literature

Achtner, Wolfgang.  "Rome Cuts Venice's Lifeline."  The 
     Independent (March 24, 1991): 13.
Booth, Cathy.  "The Battle of Venice."  Time 135 (May 28,
     1990): 57.
Cerutti, Herbert.  "Drafting a Solution."  World Press Review 
     38 (March 1991): 55.
Claffey, Charles E.  "Planning World's Fair Adds Threat 
     to Venice, Preservationists Say."  The Boston Sunday
     Globe (February 25, 1990): 17.
Collins, Guy.  "Venice, Adrift in Tourist, May Turn Into a
Museum    as Its Residents Flee."  The Wall Street
          Journal  (January 10, 1992): A5B.
Errahmani, Abdelkader Brahim.  "International Campaigns to 
     Safeguard the Cultural Heritage of Mankind."  UNESCO
     Courier (October 1990): 46.
Follain, John.  "Italy Offers Venice For U.N. Conference."  The
     Reuter Library Report (February 24, 1992). 
Glover, John.  "Greenpeace Declares War on Porto Marghera."  
     Chemicalweek 147 (September 26, 1990): 30.
Greenberg, Peter S.  "How Tourism and the Environment Are 
     Colliding."  The Los Angeles Times (July 9, 1989):
     Part VII.
Haberman, Clyde.  "A Heavy Shadow Is Lifted, and Venice Sighs." 
     The New York Times (June 13, 1990): A11.
"Information Concerning the European Community Commission's
     Plans for a Tourist Code of Conduct."  WTO
     Environment Committee, Fifth Meeting, Madrid Spain,
     April 23-24, 1992, provisional agenda item 4 (b).  
Johnson, Bruce.  "Sinking Venice to be Saved with 'Thames
     Barrier' Gates."  The Daily Telegraph (February 15,
     1992): 9.
Johnson, Marguerite.  "Elbow-to-Elbow at the Louvre."  Time 
     138 (July 29, 1991): 30-31.
Kariel, Herbert.  "Tourism and Development: Perplexity or 
     Panacea?"  Journal of Travel Research 28 (Summer
     1989): 2-6.
Masello, David.  "Ban the Boom?"  Architectural Record
     (March 1991): 68-9.
May, John.  "World-Class Destruction."  The New York Times 
     (February 17, 1992): A17.  
Murray, William.  "Letter From Venice."  The New Yorker 62 
     (May 12, 1986).  
"Not So Serenissima."  New Scientist 125 (February 3, 1990):
O'Neill, Bill.  "Venice Turns the Tide on its Polluted Lagoon." 
     New Scientist 125 (February 3, 1990): 29.
Paterson, Harriet.  "Vendetta will be the Death of Venice." 
The  Sunday Telegraph (November 3, 1991): 22. 
Simons, Marlise.  "Now, Venice Is Under Attack by Giant Algae." 
     The New York Times (June 13, 1989): A13. 
Temin, Christin.  "A Masked Ball to Help Save Venice."
     The Boston Globe (April 17, 1991): 33.
Temin, Christine.  "Venice; American Group Trying to Save the
     City's Glorious Art and Architecture from the Ravages
     of Time and Weather."  The Boston Globe (March 15,
     1992):  B1.
Whitney, Craig.  "Europeans Come to Aid of English Cathedral."
     The New York Times (May 24, 1990): A12. 


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