Travelers never like to be told what they cannot do, but perhaps Venice can strike the right tone.
Venice’s residents have fled the city en masse as too much tourism has taken its toll on infrastructure and daily life. But the city finally thinks it has a winning strategy to bring it back from the breaking point: Tell tourists to live by the golden rule.
In short: Treat the city like you would want visitors to treat yours.
But this is far from a being a destination marketing campaign for the city.
Rather, the campaign is reinforcing rules and regulations that have been in place for years and telling tourists that they’ll potentially face hefty fines of $29-$580 (€25 to €500) if they don’t follow them.
Sitting on the ground in iconic St. Mark’s Square or below the Procuratie Nuove, for example, is forbidden under city regulations. It’s also forbidden to “hinder circulation of traffic on bridges and alleys,” according to the city.
Cycling in the city center and swimming in the city’s canals are also forbidden and illustrated as such on the campaign’s official signage that will be posted throughout Venice (see sign below).
The campaign is also promoting good tourist behaviors such as discovering the city’s hidden treasures, exploring nearby islands in Venice’s lagoon, or visiting a food market and sampling local produce.
Telling travelers to visit new places or hidden gems would only be a temporary relief, of course, if that message reaches most travelers and they actually listen.
Eventually, the hidden gems will no longer be hidden either.
The tourism board has produced a few YouTube videos for #EnjoyRespectVenezia, albeit in Italian and without any particularly compelling messaging or creative.
Signs and posters, which will be displayed in 10 languages including English, Chinese, Arabic, and Korean, will be placed throughout the city center and main tourist zones. The city has also highlighted the campaign on some of its main attractions such as Saint Mark’s Belltower, pictured below.
Venice’s residents and city council have increasingly grown agitated with overtourism in the city center during the past few years. They have fought to keep larger cruise ships out and proposed other measures to limit or regulate tourism.
It’s not clear how wide of a reach this campaign will have beyond the physical posters throughout the city and travelers who happen to stumble upon the social media hashtag.
Venice seems to understand that it won’t be able to tell travelers to stop visiting its unique attractions and canals, but it is trying to tell them how to show respect and behave around those attractions when they are in the destination.
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Photo credit: Venice is launching a campaign to tell tourists how to behave and respect the city. Pictured are tourists on a popular bridge over a canal in the city center. Lauchlin Wilkinson / Flickr