Boarding – Mohamed Nour
Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world for its celebrated art and architecture. The city has an average of 50,000 tourists a day (2007 estimate). In 2006, it was the world›s 28th most internationally visited city, with 2.927 million international arrivals that year. It is regarded as one of the world›s most beautiful cities.
Tourism has been a major sector of Venetian industry since the 18th century, when it was a major center for the Grand Tour, with its beautiful cityscape, uniqueness, and rich musical and artistic cultural heritage. In the 19th century, it became a fashionable centre for the rich and famous, often staying or dining at luxury establishments such as the Danieli Hotel and the Caffè Florian. It continued being a fashionable city in vogue right into the early 20th century. In the 1980s, the Carnival of Venice was revived and the city has become a major centre of international conferences and festivals, such as the prestigious Venice Biennale and the Venice Film Festival, which attract visitors from all over the world for their theatrical, cultural, cinematic, artistic, and musical productions
Today, there are numerous attractions in Venice, such as St Mark›s Basilica, the Grand Canal, and the Piazza San Marco. The Lido di Venezia is also a popular international luxury destination, attracting thousands of actors, critics, celebrities, and mainly people in the cinematic industry. The city also relies heavily on the cruise business. The Cruise Venice Committee has estimated that cruise ship passengers spend more than 150 million euros (US $193 million) annually in the city.
However, Venice›s popularity as a major worldwide tourist destination has caused several problems, including the fact that the city can be very overcrowded at some points of the year. It is regarded by some as a tourist trap, and by others as a «living museum». Unlike most other places in Western Europe, and the world, Venice has become widely known for its element of elegant decay. The competition for foreigners to buy homes in Venice has made prices rise so high that numerous inhabitants are forced to move to more affordable areas of Veneto and Italy, the most notable being Mestre.
The need to balance cruise tourism revenues with the protection of the city›s fragile canals has seen the Italian Transport Ministry attempt to introduce a ban on large cruise ships visiting the city. The ban would only allow cruise ships smaller than 40,000-gross tons to enter Venice’s Giudecca Canal and St Mark›s basin. In January, a regional court scrapped the ban, but global cruise lines indicated that they would continue to respect it until a long-term solution for the protection of Venice is found.
Venice is built on an archipelago of 117 islands formed by 177 canals in a shallow lagoon, connected by 409 bridges. In the old centre, the canals serve the function of roads, and almost every form of transport is on water or on foot. In the 19th century, a causeway to the mainland brought the Venezia Santa Lucia railway station to Venice, and the Ponte della Libertà road causeway and parking facilities (in Tronchetto island and in piazzale Roma) were built during the 20th century. Beyond the road and rail land entrances at the northern edge of the city, transportation within the city remains (as it was in centuries past) entirely on water or on foot. Venice is Europe›s largest urban car-free area. Venice is unique in Europe, in having remained a sizable functioning city in the 21st century entirely without motorcars or trucks.
The classical Venetian boat is the gondola, (plural: gondole) although it is now mostly used for tourists, or for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies, or as ‹traghetti› (sing.: traghetto) to cross the Canale Grande in the absence of a nearby bridge. Many gondolas are lushly appointed with crushed velvet seats and Persian rugs. Less well-known is the smaller sandolo. At the front of each gondola that works in the city, there is a large piece of metal called the ‹ferro,› or iron. Its shape has evolved through the centuries, as documented in many well-known paintings. Its form, topped by a likeness of the Doge›s hat, became gradually standardized, and was then fixed by local law. It consists of six bars pointing forward representing the Sestieri of the city, and one that points backward representing the Giudecca).
Venezia is a city of small islands, enhanced during the Middle Ages by the dredging of soils to raise the marshy ground above the tides. The resulting canals encouraged the flourishing of a nautical culture which proved central to the economy of the city. Today those canals still provide the means for transport of goods and people within the city.
The maze of canals threaded through the city requires the use of more than 400 bridges to permit the flow of foot traffic. In 2011, the city opened Ponte della Costituzione, the fourth bridge across the Grand Canal, connecting the Piazzale Roma bus terminal area with the Stazione Ferroviaria (train station), the others being the original Ponte di Rialto, the Ponte dell›Accademia, and the Ponte degli Scalzi.
Venice is served by the Marco Polo International Airport, or Aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo, named in honor of its famous citizen. The airport is on the mainland and was rebuilt away from the coast. From the Venice airport, it›s possible to reach by public transport.