How Florence and Venice plan to rebuild tourism after coronavirus crisis

The plans, laid out in a nine-page booklet, include more policing and more funds for public transport, but also better regulations for guides and for short-term housing rentals.

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In the Decalogo, or “ten commandments” which was sent to the Italian government, the mayors have defined ten things they would like to see happen when travel resumes.

Both cities have urged the government to give them more powers to regulate the tourism industry when travelers eventually return.

Their ideas could be adopted by other parts of Italy, he said, adding: “As soon as the borders reopen after the coronavirus emergency, the country must be ready.”

Even as most of Italy entered a new lockdown on Monday, the mayor of Florence Dario Nardella spoke of the need to consider “a new model of tourism also linked to the valuation, promotion and protection of cities of art “.

Among the changes they called for was more power to limit the spread of Airbnb in their cities.

“The short-term rental phenomenon needs to be better managed, with clearer rules at the national level,” the document read, claiming that some operators “hid a business behind a rental”, meaning they had an unfair tax advantage that allowed them to undermine registered hotels.

A street vendor sets up shop in Saint Mark’s Square in Venice. Photo: ANDREA PATTARO / AFP.

He also acknowledged that unregulated tourist rentals can “create problems in the area”, especially if they are apartments in a residential building.

They also suggest limiting certain commercial activities aimed at tourists and “preserving crafts and local shops in historic centers”, by limiting the openings of new stores to those selling quality local and artisan products, and by introducing rules on storefronts to improve appearance. city ​​streets.

They also suggested stricter regulations for tour guides and a ban on “free tours,” where guides work for tips and are often unregulated.

The document states that businesses run by “unqualified” and unregulated operators “weaken the country’s overall tourism supply”.

The mayors wrote they also wanted instant fines for visitors caught vandalizing city streets or landmarks, as well as “smart control rooms with increased video surveillance.”

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“The idea arose after listening to President Draghi’s speech on the day of his inauguration, in which he addressed the theme of cities of art and the need for a new model of tourism,” said Nardella.

The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, stressed that as “Italy’s ambassadors to the world”, their two cities must show the way.

Mass of crowds at Rialto Bridge, Venice in 2018. Photo: Venezia Autentica

Mass tourism was only expected to continue to grow in Italy in recent years, which raised many concerns about whether cities like Florence and Venice would be able to cope.

In Venice, the increase in tourism has long been blamed for an increase in petty crime, from rubbish to vandalism, and the lagoon city is known to fight pollution caused by the large number of cruise ships docking in the lagoon. .

Before the pandemic, the centers of Italy’s most famous cities were usually inundated with tourists – so much so that in recent years they had put in place a series of measures aimed at reducing the damaging effects of mass tourism.

Authorities, tired of what they saw as bad behavior on the part of tourists, had cracked down on offenses ranging from outdoor snacking in central Florence to shirtless cycling and brewing street coffee in Venice .

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Venice last year also delayed the planned introduction of a new tourist tax, intended to help cover the costs of keeping the city clean and safe after years of problems caused by overtourism.

Canal city authorities have said the tax, intended for day trippers excluded from an existing tax on overnight tourists, will now only be implemented in 2022.

With the decrease in the number of local residents left in the central areas of one or another city. Venice and Florence have remained calm since the onset of the pandemic and have halted most travel.

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