The Venice Report,
a new initiative by the Venice in Peril Fund
The Venice Report, commissioned by Venice in Peril in collaboration with the Department of Architecture of Cambridge University, and published by Cambridge University Press in 2009, has set out to cover four areas of Venetian existence: how many people live in the city; how many tourists visit it; how is the use of its buildings changing, and how it is financed.
Main points emerging from the Venice Report
In 1951, 1.1 million travellers came to Venice; in 2007, it was around 16.5 million, of which 12.5 million were day trippers, and around four million spent at least one night in the city, averaging out at 59,000 presences a day. A new and ingenious study of tourism by the University of Venice makes the first assessment of how many tourists the city can hold, partly by applying Health & Safety rules to the bottlenecks on the most frequented routes. The answer is a minimum of 31,000 if the tourist industry is to be sustained, and a maximum of 86,000 (not recommended). St Mark's Square, the top attraction, can hold a maximum of 134,000 a day allowing 1.2m per pedestrian and taking account of the width of its seven exits. An online incentive/disincentive advance booking scheme, Venice Connected, is as far as the municipality is prepared to go at present in managing the flow.
In 2000, 200 cruise ships sailed into the Basin of St Mark's and down the Giudecca Canal; in 2007, it was 510. These cruise ships, some of them 16 decks high, will become even more frequent. Currently, the passenger port of Venice (not the same as the commercial port of Marghera) can accommodate three big ships and one smaller one, but by 2012 it will have room for five big ships, 250-315m long. These carry a minimum of 2000 passengers, with a maximum of 3,800, rising to 4000 for the new generation.
The officially registered resident population of Venice is 60,209, barely a third of 60 years ago. Although the municipality's offices are still next to the Rialto Bridge, the reality is that, with its dwindling voter base representing only 20% of the whole municipality, which extends of a large area of the mainland, the interests of the historic city sway the elections less than the interests of the terraferma.
But the city is not "dying" for lack of inhabitants, as frequently stated; besides the official residents, it has 15,000 people living at least sporadically in second homes, and around 4000 resident students.
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