Return to the Middle Ages

Thanks to Venice, the medieval right of entry is back.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
16 September 2023 Saturday 04:58
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Return to the Middle Ages

Thanks to Venice, the medieval right of entry is back. Scratch your pocket to enter a city. The walls are now invisible and there are no guards with spears at the entrances demanding payment to let us cross the threshold. But it is the same as centuries ago: collecting and avoiding the presence of the most anorexic pockets.

It is not a novelty. The tourist tax applicable to individuals who spend the night in a city or the one that cars have to pay in some places like London to be able to access its streets are also copies of those taxes so far away. Now they justify themselves in another way and instead of the lord they are charged by the town hall or the regional government. This makes them less painful and objectionable in the eyes of modern man. We have updated the name of the exactions that are imposed on us to move, but those of those who we think lived in the night of time are not so far away from us.

The capital of Veneto has gone one step further. The romantic city of canals eluded hikers who entered and left its borders on the same day. Without an overnight stay, the tourist tax could not be applied to them. And the collector, always hungry, has now found the formula so that they also go through the box. Tourists of lesser value, those who only visit Venice during the day and then go to sleep elsewhere, will have to notify in advance and buy a five-euro visa. The formal objective of the experiment is to contain overcrowding. The reality, taking for granted that no one will stop visiting it because they have to part with a five-euro note, will be reduced for the time being to the increase in revenue for the benefit of the municipal coffers.

Mass tourism is on the agenda of cities. New York has de facto banned Airbnb's vacation rental business. In Barcelona, ​​the debate is also recurring, be it because of cruise ships or the plague of tourist apartments that are emptying neighborhoods and driving up rent inflation. It is being recognized that the classic hotel industry is not the problem. So many times criminalized, at least it creates jobs, it dignifies buildings that would otherwise end up being piled up rubble on the lot on which they were once built and, if the urban planning and use plans are rational, it lives with the usual neighborhood of 'a city.

The Venetian proof refers to more general questions. Almost of a moral order, let's say; since it blocks the person's way. It does not tax the means of transport, nor the environmental costs derived from the expenditure of water, electricity and miscellaneous consumption associated with the overnight stay. Venice now bluntly says that it cannot accommodate everyone who wants to go there. And it aims to establish numerus clausus. The Venetians, the very few who are left, first, and then the tourists with carriages. The rest, the traveling trash fish watching every euro they spend, it's better to stay at home. This is the underlying message.

The recurring argument about quality tourism or the establishment of additional economic burdens on the traveler, questions always present in the debate about how to stop massification, are nothing more than euphemisms to try to put limits on the number of individuals from the highest classes people who must be able to afford tourism.

Whoever has a full wallet is always well received. The same is true of environmental burdens in transport, whether in the automotive industry or commercial flights. The tendency to make mobility more expensive harms those who have to do the numbers to get from one place to another. But never who can change their car like they change their shirt or despise low cost flights because they take off at inopportune hours, land at secondary airports and are offered by companies that treat customers like cattle.

Even so, despite knowing that we are dealing with purely classist arguments that will go further, it must be recognized that reality places municipal institutions in front of the need to test policies that prevent neighborhoods and entire cities from ending up being a thematic area of Port aventura. But without deceiving us. What is being proclaimed is a world where moving will once again be something reserved for the elites after a period of democratization. In Que c'est triste Venice, Charles Aznavour longed for his lover in a city that was not the same without her. No one would miss her now. Neither to her nor to a few million hard-working travelers who have stopped being welcome. They are simply left over. Or at least this is the truth that is emerging. Not only in Venice.