Venice - Overtourism Research Project

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1. Posted by Nisaaa (Budding Member 5 posts) 30w Star this if you like it!

Hello, I am a final year undergraduate university student undertaking some research on the issue of 'overtourism' in Venice specifically. As part of my project, I need some feedback from members of a travel community or from travel/tourism forums to support my findings, and if there are any suggestions that are made to me.
So, Venice is a hot and majority water city where large numbers of tourists come from cruise ships especially, increasing overall footfall. Effectively, the number of tourists exceed the number of residents in Venice --> 60,000:55,000 ratio per year. Tourists however, are not encouraged to stay in the central mainland, as it affects residents; explaining the lack of hotels. This makes accommodation an issue, meaning more public facilities need to be made available or signposted for tourists (e.g. toilets, drinking water, picnic sites etc) to be able to use.
These are all issues found from my need finding therefore, my suggestion was to create a digital solution (program) that could be implemented in the most remote areas of Venice, for use by the tourists. This would be done as a touch screen kiosk device where an embedded map would pin point local facilities, based upon what tourists may need. This will include a search bar, different language preferences and even icons - to make it universally applicable and usable by all tourists.
If information is clearly signposted and made available for tourists, tourism would somewhat reduce in most residential areas of Venice, meaning fewer disputes between both groups and the government body. This would be because tourists would now know where to go, minimising chances of becoming lost and wandering into residential areas within Venice.
 
So, my question to you is:
 
"What do you think of this digital solution? Does it seem viable? What improvements would you make? How do you think this will affects a.) tourists and b.) residents?"
 
Thank you.
 
Best Wishes,
Nisa :)

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1163 posts) 30w 1 Star this if you like it!

It sounds a clunky solution to me. Kiosks would be expensive, wouldn't always be found by tourists, and are a last century solution.

I visited Venice again a few months ago - we got around using a paper map or Google maps on our smartphones.

Google maps was the most useful thing to us, because the biggest challenge is to figure out which exit you need off a square, micronavigation that you don't need in many other places. A kiosk doesn’t address that, but a smartphone does.

3. Posted by Nisaaa (Budding Member 5 posts) 30w Star this if you like it!

Hi Andy,

Thanks for your speedy response! It is of much help!

I see what you mean, and do agree that it is a very expensive method. You say Google Maps was the most useful thing to you. If I may ask, were all details and sites in Venice located on the Google Map app, or did you have to walk around to find some of these? Additionally, when you did find these sites, were they very busy or not? What solution(s) would you say there are that help tackle the problem of overcrowding in Venice?

Also, using Google Maps would mean that your smartphone battery would reduce considerably, what alternative solution would you say there is to this then? Especially if there are new, first-time travellers, who may not see having a battery pack as essential. How would you go about working costs for the usage of mobile data, using Google Maps all throughout your journey?

Thanks Andy.

Best Wishes,

4. Posted by Peter (Admin 6507 posts) 30w Star this if you like it!

Hmm, it seems to me that making things easier for tourists would just encourage more tourists. I can't really see how it would help with over-tourism. Is that hypothesis based on any research? Also, I doubt that a kiosk would stop me from bothering locals. They have them at shopping malls and inevitably when I'm ready to use one, it seems there are two other people waiting for it. Usually it's faster to ask someone nearby. Kiosks out in the open have a bad habit of getting scratched up really quickly too, and the touch interaction is never as nice due to the extra layer of protective glass.

Agreed that Google Maps would probably be what I'd use. Or maybe if there was a tailored app that was just for Venice, and I somehow knew about it, I'd use that.

Either way, I just can't see how any of this would combat the effects of over-tourism. I'm thinking of how other really crowded tourism attractions handle these things and usually it seems to be a case of limiting the number of people. For example, recently there was a baby panda born at the Tokyo zoo. Because demand was so high to look at it, they ended up creating a lottery system to decide who could see the panda. Not only that, but each person who actually won the lottery would only get 2 minutes to view the panda.

5. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1128 posts) 30w Star this if you like it!

Hope this stays. Don't have time to read but have ideas. Another research project got bounced a while ago. I'll be back.

6. Posted by Peter (Admin 6507 posts) 30w Star this if you like it!

I'll leave the discussion up. It's not a link out to a survey and the discussion is interesting for the members on the site anyway, so I think it is valuable to the forum.

7. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 759 posts) 30w Star this if you like it!

They have a similar system at Monte Verde in Costa Rica. Only 100 people allowed in at a time.

If you are talking only about cruise ship passengers, most of them will be in tour groups and the tour guide will know where facilities are. They will go back to the ship to eat (and sleep) so there is not a problem with finding picnic places or hotels. Also those cruise sheeple will be unlikely to be wandering around the back alleys of Venice - they will be in the tourist places - St. Marks, museums etc. (I say this as someone who visited Venice from a cruise ship). So kiosks in remote locations would not help them much. I also feel that a fixed electronic gadget like a kiosk would be a bad idea in Venice which is subject to flooding.

8. Posted by Peter (Admin 6507 posts) 30w Star this if you like it!

According to this article at least, only a relatively small percentage of tourism is from cruise ships. 1.5 million out of 28 million per year. Did not look further into data, so who knows how accurate that is.

Plus, one of the main issues with over-tourism is the high rental prices which drive local residents out of their town. Cruise passengers are clearly not the ones responsible for that.

Not sure what the solution there would be other than really strict zoning rules that stop people from renting out their places as BnBs.

9. Posted by Teoni (Respected Member 556 posts) 30w Star this if you like it!

I need some feedback from members of a travel community or from travel/tourism forums to support my findings

That isn't a scientifc approach. You follow evidence to create a conclusion even if the conclusion isn't desirable, you are not suppose to actively look for evidence to support a preconceived conclusion, that is called bias so I have to ask, do you work for an information kiosk company?

As has be stated the only way to fix "overtourism" is to put quotas on tourist numbers. This has been done at many tourist attractions around the world and it is proven to be the only way to effectively reduce numbers.

The other problem with Venice is rampant corrupation which has led to none or ineffective regulation, the classic example being the proximity cruise ships could anchor to the city, which I hear they are only just now fixing up. A computer information kiosk is hardly going to fix these ingrained problems.

10. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 759 posts) 30w Star this if you like it!

You are right - the cruise ships bring only 1.4 million visitors last year and their number is declining rather than increasing. This is out of a total of over 20 million. Actually increasing the number of cruise ship passengers would do quite a bit to reduce the over-tourism problem as they spend money, but don't require hotels.

The problem of high rental prices and the tourists driving out the local residents is true of many small islands. It is the same in Key West where a high school principal from off-island cannot afford to buy or rent a house on the island on the salary that he would be paid.

One idea would be to increase the options to travel in the off-season - to smooth out the number of tourists over the whole year - not all of them in the hot summer months. I visited in April - the weather was very nice, and my daughter was there in the winter when there was some flooding at high tide, but it wasn't hot. Another possibility would be to add places to stay out on the beaches or on one of the nearby islands like Burano - away from the main island but with convenient shuttles - so a kind of land based cruise ship population.

In any case, instead of kiosks, I suggest an ap for cell phones which would give people options for hotels and restaurants and also lower cost housing options off the main island. If you made this ap free for downloading and gave it a good bit of publicity, I think it would be very successful. If you restricted the housing options to actual hotels (rather than BnB or couchsurfing) on Venice itself and listed only those places outside the main island it might over time help with the situation. And the merchants that wanted to advertise could pay for the maintenance of the ap (because of course if it is not up to date, it is no good). The ap could include facilities in it. Vaporetto stops, maybe the ability to buy digital tickets, admission to St. Marks (digital standing in line) etc.

I realize that this goes against your whole thesis ;)