By Spencer Mann, International News Writer
On November 12, locals of Venice, the famous tourist city, took to newfound measures to protest the city’s shrinking population and reducing quality of life for locals. In a buildup of animosity spanning over sixty years, Venetians have had enough.
Years of management favoring the vacationers have left residents feeling abandoned and without options. Since 1951, the population of Venice has dropped almost 70%.
The decline has been steady, with natives departing in consistent numbers each year. Much of the emigration is centered around increased cost of living from tourism and the municipality’s preference towards tourists.
With tensions rising, citizens took to more desperate measures to express their concern for the direction in which the city is heading. In September, activists assembled into small wooden boats and blocked a cruise ship from entering its port. This was the first significant act of resistance. Since then, the demonstrations have continued but they have taken a more symbolic turn in nature.
This past week, locals began carrying around suitcases in the city. This demonstration represents the ever growing amount of tourism, while also foreshadowing the residents’ possible need to find a new home.
A large group of protesters took to the city’s famed Rialto Bridge to express their concerns in a written manner. A large sign was hung on the side of the bridge with the protesters’ hashtag of choice “#Venexodus.” The biggest group of campaigners runs its operations at Venessia.com, a website dedicated to this cause. These forms of resistance have given the activists the international spotlight to share their concerns, as these protests are now broadcasted on the news across the world.
To make amends, the city held a meeting with the residents, which gave many of them hope. According to BBC, the city has proposed the idea of finding ways to tax tourists more, which would generate more revenue for the city that can go back to the permanent residents.
After many years having passed before the problem was addressed seriously, Venetians are putting up a last stand to save their city. For too long, the tourists were favored for the short-term revenue benefits.
However, the city is suffering the consequences now. To keep itself as a global tourism hotspot, Venice will have to address its citizens first.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 22nd print edition.
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