Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Lionel Laurent

Does Venice Hold the Key to Saving Cities from Mass Tourism?

If one of the world’s most-visited destinations can curb tourism’s excesses after the pandemic, anyone can.

Save Venice.

Save Venice.

Photographer: Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images

When Covid-19 lockdowns emptied out cities from Paris to Sydney, city dwellers got a glimpse of what life without the hazards of mass tourism could be. Now, as the sound of jet engines and cruise ships fills the air again, we should push for a more balanced return to normality. 

Italy offers a glimpse of what that might be with Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s courageous move to ban giant cruise ships from Venice’s lagoon. The decision, which took effect last weekend, might seem like a no-brainer given the ballooning size and damage caused by floating hulks carrying thousands of people, but it’s one that carries real economic trade-offs after the pandemic. It should be just the start: The tourism industry that calls for regulation alongside longer-term reinvention.