© Getty Images As many as 30 million tourists visit Venice each year. (photo via RudyBalasko / iStock / Getty Images Plus) Venice is resorting to segregation of visitors and locals to deal with its notorious overtourism challenges.
In a move that has not gone over well with locals, turnstiles were installed at Piazzale Roma, the bus terminal and main point of entry to the city.
The turnstiles were intended to act as checkpoints, allowing residents to move about the city as they wish, but holding off tourists when certain areas of Venice become too crowded.
Infuriated residents, however, tore down the turnstiles one day after they were erected. A group of about 30 activists attacked the newly installed checkpoints.
“We refuse the idea of having checkpoints to get into the city. We own our city,” said protestor Marco Baravalle, according to the Independent. “It’s not the mayor who owns the city. It’s not the police or the tourists either."
“Venice is dying,” Baravalle added. “The mayor putting in the turnstiles is demonstrating that he is giving up. He wants Venice to become a city with no inhabitants.”
The turnstiles were installed at the direction of Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro, who cited safety concerns leading up to a bank holiday weekend that was expected to draw large crowds to the historic city.
Under the mayor’s plan, locals and regular visitors who have a Venezia Unica card would be allowed through, but anyone without proper documents would be directed along other streets.
The turnstiles torn down by protestors have since been repaired and put back in place. The protestors, however, say this is not the end of the debate.
Activists, led by Tommaso Cacciari, argue that turnstiles are not the solution to the challenges Venice is now facing. They blame cruise ship arrivals for much of the problem, adding that “Venice is not a theme park.”
Tensions between locals and tourists in Venice have been rising for quite some time. Last summer, according to the Independent, up to 60,000 visitors arrived in the city every day, overwhelming the resident population of just 55,000 people. Venice attracts as much as 30 million tourists annually.
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