Venice is the world capital of overcrowding


A study by Airbnb shows it beats Barcelona, Amsterdam and Bangkok: 73.8 370 visitors for each resident

By Roberta Rossi

Venice. “Venice is the world capital of mass tourism: it beats Barcelona, Amsterdam and Bangkok”. Now even Airbnb has “discovered” that Venice is being suffocated by too many tourists: the world’s largest platform for online tourist rentals calculates that there are 73.8 visitors for every one citizen in a year. This number was arrived at starting with 20 million visitors in 2017, between overnight stays and day visits (the source cited is World Population Review) and dividing it by the 270 thousand residents in the entire City of Venice.

In reality it is clear that the pressure is much greater because these 20 million tourists – which Airbnb, in a note, has growing to the 23 to 28 estimated by the City of Venice – don’t burden the entire city, but only the historic city, which in 2017 had 54 thousand residents, and today even fewer. So, if one redoes the numbers, it rises to 370 tourists per resident in Venice: a completely different question.

The study. Airbnb issued its alert in a statement which accompanied its report on “sustainable tourism” presented yesterday in Paris, which compares eight world tourist destinations: “Healthy Travel and Healthy Destinations”, by Jonathan Tourtellot. It is a study which – as far as regards Venice – on the one hand raises the red flag about “overcrowding, a critical problem which above all concerns the center of the city”, but in which Airbnb absolves itself of any part in the crowding of the city, pointing out how (only) 2.2 of the 73.8 visitors made their reservations using the portal: “In terms of impact on the city”, reads the study, “between 72% and 93% of the offers on Airbnb for Venice are located outside the areas under stress, a “healthy” tourism which is less invasive and brings more benefits to the area”.

The comparison. It’s difficult to find a common thread in the research, because if for Venezia it accepts as good the underestimated number of 20 million tourists in 2017 and then divides by the 270 thousand residents of the entire municipality, for the other cities in the study only “overnight guests” were considered, that is tourists with reservations for lodging. Thus Amsterdam has 7.8 tourists per resident, Barcelona has 4.7, Majorca 10.2, Kyoto 2.1, Bali 3.3, Bangkok 2.9, and Queenstown in New Zealand 51.3. So, if we want to follow the same parameter, starting with a verified number of 10.5 million reservations registered in 2016 by the City’s Tourism Annual Report, then dividing this by the total number of residents, the result is 38.9 tourists per resident: this climbs to 194 if we only consider the Venetian residents.

Airbnb’s numbers: In the study the platform reports having had 605 thousand guests in Venice in 2017, adding in a statement that the number of those who had actually rented in the historic city is 470 thousand: confirming how many visitors sleep on the mainland then obviously come to visit the city. That which is certain is that – starting from 20 million or from the 23-28 million estimated by the City, or even just from the overnight stays – we can agree with Airbnb’s conclusions when it emphasizes how overcrowding is a critical problem: “If we make a comparison with situations such as Amsterdam or Barcelona – even if the report analyzes only overnight stays and not day visitors – the impact from tourists who choose Airbnb rises respectively to 12% and to 18% of the total travelers”.

The study does not touch on the impact of the whole tourist rental system on the now inexistent residential rental market, but states that “the Airbnb model is chosen primarily by tourists who want to live in the city as if they were “temporary citizens”, contributing to the economic development of the community where they are staying. In Venice tourists who have chosen the platform have spent in total almost 54 million Euro. This is without considering that, thanks to the money they earn with their rentals, the hosts have put 2 million Euro in circulation renovating their homes”. Even in this case, though, dividing 54 million Euro by the 605 thousand Airbnb guests, this comes to little more than 89 Euro a person, and that is divided by the average 2.8 days they stay.

The Occupancy Tax. Hanging over it, and still open, is the “dispute” with the City over the occupancy tax. The Assessors of Tourism (Paola Mar) and the Budget (Michele Zuin) have repeatedly told Airbnb that they want the platform to be subject to the tax and pay the occupancy taxes collected from their guest, but along different guidelines, based on the classification of the apartments and of the high volume “bollino nero” days. Having skipped a scheduled meeting, now the company informs us that “the meeting was never fixed because the City has asked us to return with a concrete proposal, one that prevents each side from sticking with its own position. We are working on it”.

Source: La Nuova Venezia, 29 May 2018

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