(Rome) The city of Venice will ultimately not be listed as a world heritage site in danger, the World Heritage Committee meeting in Riyadh decided on Thursday, going against the recommendations of UNESCO experts.
“The World Heritage Committee – the governing body of the World Heritage Convention composed of 21 Member States representing the 195 States Parties to the Convention – has today taken the decision not to inscribe Venice and its lagoon on the List of heritage in danger,” UNESCO, headquartered in Paris, said in a statement.
“This decision takes into account the progress made in recent days by UNESCO, in particular the establishment from 2024 of a visitor flow management system,” a diplomat told AFP.
Even though its case was being discussed by UNESCO, the city of Venice very opportunely decided on Tuesday to introduce on a trial basis from 2024 a tax of five euros which will have to be paid. acquit tourists spending only one day in the City of the Doges. The main objective of this measure is to deter these day visitors who contribute to congesting a city famous throughout the world for its works of art, its bridges and its canals.
In 2024, this tax payable online will only concern a maximum of thirty days during which the number of tourists is traditionally higher.
As soon as UNESCO announced that Venice had escaped the infamous classification, Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiulano was quick to hail “a victory for Italy and common sense.”
Venice, however, is not definitively out of the woods: “The Committee reiterated its concerns regarding the significant challenges that remain to be met for the proper conservation of the site, particularly linked to mass tourism, development projects and disruption climatic. He believes that further progress needs to be made.”
The Committee further requested Italy “to invite an advisory mission from the World Heritage Center […] and to submit a report by 1 February 2024, for the state of conservation of the site to be examined again during the 46th session of the Committee in the summer of 2024.”
However, at the end of July, UNESCO recommended the “in danger” classification of Venice, a jewel threatened by too much tourism and global warming, due to “insufficient” measures taken in Italy to combat the deterioration of this site.
Venice has been postponing the taking of drastic measures for years, in particular the establishment of compulsory reservations and the quota on the number of entries to stem the surge of millions of tourists in the saturated historic center.
UNESCO experts had estimated that “continued development (of Venice), the impacts of climate change and mass tourism” threatened to “cause irreversible changes to the outstanding universal value of the property”.
Venice, an island city founded in the 5th century and becoming a great maritime power in the 10th century, spans 118 islets. This exceptional site was included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1987.
La Serenissima is one of the most visited cities in the world. At peak attendance, 100,000 tourists sleep there, in addition to tens of thousands of day visitors. Compare to the approximately 50,000 inhabitants of the city center, which continues to depopulate.