Undersecretary of Cultural Heritage Borletti responds to foreign media coverage of Venice: “Personally I don’t see conspiracies”

For the Undersecretary of Cultural Heritage there is no “conspiracy” but rather a tourism emergency. “Operational decisions from the Mayor are required and there is still no agreement regarding the Cruise Ships”

By Enrico Tantucci

“I am sorry to have to say they are right, but it is evident that already even the world’s public opinion, expressed in some of the leading foreign journals, demonstrates that they have understood the seriousness of the situation in Venice with respect to problems such as the ever more difficult relations with tourism and the situation with the Cruise Ships”. Undersecretary at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage – with a delegation to Italian UNESCO sites – Ilaria Borletti Buitoni, as always speaks clearly and does not hide her point of view regarding the international media campaign that paints Venice as becoming Disneyland and as assaulted by tourism.

Undersecretary, the City, for example the Assessor of Tourism Paola Mar, has spoken, concerning these articles which have appeared in foreign newspapers, of a “direction” taken to denigrate the image of Venice, almost a conspiracy. What do you think of this?

“Personally I don’t see conspiracies and I would not understand to what end these would serve, given that everyone loves Venice. I believe, simply, that Venice is receiving global attention, and also that the millions of tourists who come here notice the situation, and so too the foreign journals. There is word of mouth, perhaps, more than a conspiracy. But it all comes from the ever worsening situation caused by uncontrolled tourism, which is clear for all to see. It is no surprise that foreign papers speak of it, especially during the summer, when tourism in Venice reaches its height”.

Does the City of Venice need to do more to contain the problem?

“The City is making some attempts regarding decorum, which should be encouraged, and the provision regarding the limiting of Bed and Breakfasts is headed in the right direction, but it is not enough. UNESCO has suspended its judgement regarding the declassification of Venice as a UNESCO site, appreciating the good will, but now operational decisions are required regarding the problem of the flow of tourists. If not, the City will not be saved”.

What steps? And who should take them?

“I think of systems of reservations for visits or even of ticketing, but it is up to the Mayor of the City to do these things. The Government and the Ministry can assist the City, but cannot be a substitute for it. It is clear that decisions which are efficacious and which move in the direction of controlling the flows of tourists are inevitably destined to displease some part of the citizens or certain sectors of the Venetian economy. However if we only seek consensus, the problem of tourism in Venice, which grow ever more grave, will never be addressed. I believe that the progressive worsening of the situation will force these decisions. For example those decisions taken by the Administration approving the building of new Hotels and Inns for “on foot” tourists in Mestre, may perhaps bring some economic benefit to the mainland, but render the situation in Venice even more explosive, which is “dying” from day visiting tourists”.

Regarding the problem of Cruise Ships it seems that the Government does not have clear ideas, and the Committee is continually postponed. Is this so?

“There is no doubt that the imminent end of a legislative term is not the best time for strategic decisions such as those regarding alternative routes for the Cruise Ships. However it is necessary first that the three Ministries which are involved, Infrastructure, Environment and Cultural Heritage find some agreement on the problem of Cruise Ships. Calling a meeting of the Committee without this agreement will not achieve anything”.

Source: La Nuova Venezia. 5 August, 2017

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