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Venice considers a new tourism model after COVID-19 lockdown

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Venice considers a new tourism model after COVID-19 lockdown
Copyright  Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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The Coronavirus crisis is prompting authorities in the Italian port of Venice to reconsider its mass-tourism model.

Up to 30 million people visited in 2018. Now, like so many other places, the city is deserted.

"We've gone from one extreme to the other," explained Matteo Secchi of the Venessia Association. "Here, a few months ago, we couldn't even pass each other. Now the streets are empty."

There's a certain charm about the empty waterways and plazas, albeit of an eery nature. But it's an enchantment that comes at a high cost to the city's businesses, especially for those who make their money directly from tourism.

Marianna Serandrei is the owner of the Capisini Hotel Group.

"In the beginning, we were talking about one to two months, then 3 to 4 months, said Marianna. "Many talk about a resumption of activity at the beginning of next year. We see that the major movements are for February and March 2021."

Time for a rethink

The city's reliance on mass-tourism meant Venetians could rarely greet each other on the street.

They were overwhelmed by visitors, many of whom arrived on vast cruise liners. Now, according to the city's deputy mayor Simone Venturini, it could be time to consider a softer model, even if it means physically limiting the number of visitors.

"This will be an opportunity to move towards intelligent tourism. With tourists who take the time to understand and get away from the frenetic tours of other times."

It will be a difficult move to make, given the city's reliance on tourism, but for now, admittedly under terrible circumstances, the streets belong to Venetians.