With Venice in Danger, Protectors Look to Rich for Rescue

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An Italian heritage protection group has issued a warning claiming that a rising tide of tourists in Venice is likely speeding the flooding of the city and recommending that the government cap the number of tourists before there is nothing left to visit.

According to Italia Nostra, a prominent domestic organization, Venice is receiving about 60,000 visitors daily, twice what the city's infrastructure can handle. The large cruise ships, tour boats and water buses that chug constantly around the lagoon are eroding the mud banks and pilings holding up the apartments, museums and churches.

"The Italian government has not lived up to its commitment made to UNESCO to safeguard Venice and its Lagoon," IN President Lidia Fersuoch told a press conference.

Fersuoch said she would ask UNESCO to take the city off the World Heritage list and put it instead on its endangered list, where it would join a group of lesser-known, less-trafficked sites. Though the estimates vary, a consensus of experts agree that Venice will likely sit under a great deal of water by the end of the century unless some form of drastic action is taken.

Italia Nostra's solution is an elegant one, quite literally. The organization proposes that Venice start marketing itself as a more exclusive destination for wealthy travelers.

For those keeping track, Venice is already a very expensive destination. Gondola rides can run tourists $100 or more and the bill for eating out near the major attractions makes visitors long for the lira.

It wouldn't be much of a stretch to say that the city has accidentally been implementing Italia Nostra's gentrification plan for the last twenty years. The tourists still come, apparently willing to shell out to experience the city's undeniable, if fading, majesty.

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