On November 14th, the remaining residents of venice will throw a red casket into the waters surrounding their city to mourn a new version of its death - not from the plague (the one caused by microbes), nor from the threat of rising tides and sinking foundations; but from another invasion - tourists! See Newsweek article and short video.
According to Newsweek, the "indigenous" population of this ancient city has dwindled below 60,000 and is projected to disappear completely if trends continue - driven out by high property prices, congestion and diminishing services. Even the tourism sector is suffering from their own success as the high prices associated with Venice have encouraged visitors to switch from overnight stays to day trips.
Organizers of the symbolic funeral are hoping it will represent a tipping point, a bottoming out of a sad decline that will lead to a rejuvenation of their city. A tourist destination is not the scenery or the architecture but a living, breathing community - they can become as extinct as polar bears and, in this case, their demise, is our responsibility.
We can only hope another renaissance is possible - especially given all the talk going on at the WTM this week about "responsible travel", "the rights of travelers", and a vision that anticipates some 9 billion international travelers all potentially wanting cheap access to the world's treasures (see previous post). This sad event on November 14th reminds it's time to let go of the illusion that we can have it all.
postscript November 16th: Al Jazeera's video report on the event - mentioning that DNA tests were taken of Venetians to record their profile - in case they become extinct.