Should Tourists Pay An Entrance Fee Just To See Venice?

Ed Raymond

Back in 1807 English poet William Wordsworth was so fed up with his fellow humans and their activities he wrote these famous lines in his poem “The World Is Too Much With Us”:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;--
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”

When he wrote this analysis of his world there were less than one billion people on this planet. We didn’t reach a billion until about 1830. It took another 100 years to add another billion by 1927. But then we really started to multiply. By 1977 the world was up to 4.2 billion, and by 2019 we have reached 7.6 billion. There are a significant number of cities and countries that are beginning to use the mantra written by Wordsworth. The city of Amsterdam and the country of The Netherlands are both complaining about the number of  tourists who use cheap flights and hotel rooms to flood a country that is always close to flooding from the sea. This country of 17 million had 19 million visitors last year! The Dutch, who are known to imbibe an alcoholic beverage on occasion, complain that many visitors are drunk and disorderly. 

The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions has shocked the citizens by estimating that annual visitations will reach 29 million in another ten years! A new word has been coined by the Dutch: overtourism. With so many tourists crowding streets, bars, hotels, parks, and historical monuments, comes a rapid decline in quality of life. Barcelona, Spain, as an example, has had so many traditional neighborhoods virtually destroyed by the number of tourists, citizens have put up signs since 2017 imploring: “Tourists Go Home, Immigrants Welcome.”

Huxley’s “Brave New World” May Provide Us Some Lessons For The Future

Huxley’s predictions about mankind’s future may help us to last to 2540 A.D. which he called 632 After Ford (Henry, that is!). Published in 1932 when the world’s population was two billion,all countries were part of The World State. It is a peaceful, consumer-driven, stable society in which the population is permanently limited to two billion. This goal was accomplished by making all sex recreational instead of “productive.” All children required to keep the world at two billion are created and decanted in Hatcheries and Conditioning Centres. They fit into five castes, ranging from the very intelligent Alphas at the top and four other castes, Betas, Gammas, Deltas--and Epsilons at the bottom of society. The bottom four are subjected to treatments (such as lack of oxygen and chemicals in their huge decanters) that lower their development and intelligence levels so they can do all the “scutwork” required to keep society’s elevators running and the buildings clean. All children are educated by the “hypnopaedic” process. This hypnotic method molds the child with caste-appropriate subconscious messages about self-image, self-conscious, social outlook, habits, taste, morals, ambitions and prejudices—and any other values selected by the Alpha Directors to aid them in producing future generations.

Women of child-bearing age are conditioned to use birth control at all times. They are instructed to wear a “Malthusian Belt” (It looks like a cartridge belt!) which holds an abundant supply of contraceptives. The maxim “everyone belongs to everyone else” is constantly repeated. Marriage, natural birth, parenthood, and pregnancy are taught to be obscene. Any idea of family is also taught to be “pornographic.”

Many states in the US. and many countries are now considering the decriminalization of marijuana at this time so the drug can be used for recreational and medical purposes. In Huxley’s book the national drug is called soma which is used as a feel-good, self-medicating drug to be used in case of stress or discomfort. The Directors of The World State endorsed it as a substitute for any “religious” need. It’s interesting that in recent surveys about religious affiliations the numbers of “nons” are dramatically increasing in our own societry. It’s time to ask the question. Would we all be better off if we limit the world population to perhaps three billion? I bet the citizens of cities and countries who are suffering from overtourism and overpopulation would vote to dramatically limit world population.

Many Cities And Parks In The U.S. Are Already Experiencing Overtourism

It’s been about 15 years since we visited Yosemite National Park. It was crowded then on certain days but it was still an enjoyable stay. But last year over 4.3 million tried to get into the park. Campgrounds were overrun and had to be closed. Traffic had to be limited or completely stopped. Some walking trails had as many as 200,000 people use them this year. How does it feel to walk in the solitude of the wilderness—with 500 other people on the same trail on the same day?

Corky and I have put about 250,000 miles on motorhomes and have been in 90% of our 417 national parks. But we visited most of our national parks between 1980 and 2010. National Park visitations have been increasing for years—and last year 331 million Americans did the parks. Over the last five years 1.5 billion spent time in the parks. No wonder they need over $11.6 billion just to cover deferred maintenance. This has got to be overtourism. We have visited all of the top ten parks over the years. Almost all attained attendance records last year (in millions): Great Smokey Mountains--11.4, Grand Canyon—6.25, Zion—4.5, Rocky Mountain—4.4, Yellowstone—4.1, Acadia—3.5, Grand Teton—3.3, and Glacier—3.3.

Some animals just don’t like to have humans around—particularly people who shoot at them regularly. Biologists who study elk in order to maintain enough to keep hunters coming to Colorado used to count 1,000 head by airplane in herds around Vail which has hundreds of square miles of slopes and valleys. In February of 2019 the DNR people flew the same routes and counted 53. Elk live between 7,000 and 13,000 feet but Colorado as an outdoor recreation state has built many trails through elk country so people can spot them close by. The problem was they didn’t ask the elk whether they would tolerate neighbors. After researching the problem it was discovered elk mothers would run too far from their home grounds to escape humans—so far that the calves could not catch up to their mothers to nurse. The weak calves by themselves either starved or were easy meat for various predators like bears and wolves. About 30% of calves died when the mother was disturbed ten times by people on trails. The district wildlife manager says if more trails are established the area “will become a biological desert.”

There Is Also A World Refugee And Asylum Crisis Because Of War And Climate

The United Nations Migration and Refugee Agency has determined that almost 71 million people in the world are refugees, returnees, stateless persons, and internally displaced people. More than half of the world’s refugees come from three Middle East countries: Syria-5.5 million, Afghanistan—2.5 million, and South Sudan—2.3 million. Over 80% of refugees stay near low and middle-income countries close to the conflicted states. Disasters in 110 countries added 3.3 million to those above totals. Approximately 5.2 million people were internally displaced by violence. More than 1.2 million refugees came to Uganda from conflicts in nearby countries. What a mess the world is in! Is it because there are too many people on earth? Would all of this conflicts and wars take place if we had only two billion people to deal with?

European Union countries presently have 900,000 seeking asylum with Germany leading the EU with 44% of the requests. Because of overcrowding, European countries have almost doubled their rejection rates from 37% in 2016 to 64% in 2019. Italian rejections are at 80% because they have accepted so many refugees from African countries. Some asylum seekers have been waiting for four years to get approval. If rejection rates in Italy continue at their present rate, over 700,000 “illegals” may be living in Italy by 2020.

Overtourism Continues To Plague Prague (I Couldn’t Resist!)

Prague, Czechoslovkia was a closed city until the communists lost power in 1989. Because of its baroque and gothic architecture—and tourists say cheap beer—it has become a new hot spot for tourists from all parts of the world, but especially Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Brazil, Belgium, and even little Armenia. In the year 2000 “only” 2.62 tourists visited Prague. But in 2018 over 8 million made the trip—and they expect another million in 2019 when the year is done. There are so many tourists visiting the center of the city because of its classic old buildings and monuments that it is changing from an established residential area to a tourist-only zone.  It seems to be happening in many European cities.

Late night organized pub crawls in Prague stumble from  pub to pub in drunken disorder. Each pub on the crawl offers a free drink to start. There are so many pub crawls they are disturbing the residential sections of downtown Prague until the wee hours of the morning. The residents are completely fed up with public urination, loud singing of drinking songs, and other loud noises made by crawlers.

Three significant European academics have agreed on this definition of overtourism: “Overtourism is the excessive growth of visitors leading to overcrowding in areas where residents suffer the consequences, which have enforced permanent changes to their lifestyles, access to amenities, and general well-being.” Mayor Pavel Cizinsky of Prague, who lives in a downtown apartment, describes that situation: “The center of Prague is losing the quality of normal life. The center is becoming a gold mine where you can earn a lot of money, but it is not a place for living. It is a significant and crucial problem. Too many people are coming just for a very small number of purposes, and buildings, and those who want to make profits from the presence of the tourists worsen the situation.”

Venice, Italy, with its crowded canals and thousands of visitors from dozens of cruise ships that stop at the city, is probably the worst victim of overtourism. Venice is on record to have over 30 million tourists this year. The city is thinking of charging an entrance fee just to visit the canal area, ranging from 2.5 Euros to 10 Euros, depending upon the time of day!

The city is currently debating the possibility of levying a 500 Euro fine on tourists pulling wheeled suitcases over the cobbled streets. They create so much noise conversations have to be limited.
Actually complaints about tourists are not new. Back in the first and second centuries when the world probably had less than 300 million people, wealthy Romans visiting Greece complained about the poor food while the Greek residents complained about the drunken Italians. What goes around comes around.