Those of you who came to visit me last year are part of an all time record....some 21 million tourists who stepped onto the island! Previous yearly estimates were in the 15 million range. Its unbelievable actually. And, sad. Why sad? Well, lest you think America is the only country to waste funds and talk out of both sides of their mouth, let me assure this is not the case---Venice, Italy does the same.
We have the endless decay and destruction that goes on here because of tourism (and the seeming lack of care or action on the part of government to do something about it), the inability of the garbage company to keep up (or so they say) with the increasing number of tourists, the incessant feeding of pigeons which in the end increases excrement and disease in the city (by the way, they havent gotten rid of the seed sellers like they said there were! no surprise there.), and the neverending debate on how to charge tourists a 'daily fee' for entering the island (because Venice is always in the red). All this and more. And what is the city government going to do now? Add hotel rooms, of course!
In order to keep up with the influx, they estimate they need at least an additional 2,500 hotel rooms by 2010. Now where they are going to put them on the island is beyond me...there isnt a spare meter of space to build on--unless, of course, you tear down the only park on the island or you sacrifice some of the historical buildings that house the last remaining Venetians to the tourist gods. Apparently, it just doesnt seem to cross their mind that 21 million visitors is more than enough....if you cant pay and keep up with what you have, then why get more?
Of course, this is the underlying theme in the housing and financial demise we are having in America.....most Europeans will tell you they dont approve of the way Americans spend without having and how they live on credit, but I offer first hand proof that we arent the only ones caught in the trap! And while I personally have no sympathy for someone who got into a 3 year ARM mortgage and is now in foreclosure because they made a greedy decision (and I will ultimately have to pay to bail them out), I am saddened that Venice the city and Venice the history will suffer because of these same type of decisions. And no one will be able to fix that in the end.