Back in 2006 the BBC reported concerns about the depopulation of Venice.
Private houses have been converted to tourism accommodation – the BBC reported then that accommodation prices were high, that empty apartments and buildings were being snapped up by “wealthy hoteliers” and that young people could no longer afford the cost of living in Venice.
Mattia Baseggio who ran a guesthouse in Venice was reported as saying
“Almost half my friends have disappeared… This is now one of the only ways to earn a living in Venice. The easiest thing to do here is to run a guesthouse. If you want a profession or a career you have to move away.” Local shops and cinemas are being replaced by high priced designers shops and souvenirs.
Massimo Cacciari was reported as saying that the council is building affordable housing. There is a real dilemma, Venice can no longer exist without its tourists as they are the main source of income and the city faces a constant battle against rising water levels, it is money that is desperately needed.
“We must have the tourists,” said Mr Cacciari. “We want them to keep coming. But it is not enough. This is becoming a city solely for tourism. Venice is becoming a museum.”
Organiser Matteo Secchi of today's mock funeral for the city told the BBC that Venice had changed for the worse.
“We promised two years ago when we got less than 60,000 inhabitants we would plan a funeral [for] the city because we think the city with less than 60,000 inhabitants is not a city any more, it's more a village,” he said.
But officials say reports of the city's death are “premature”.
There was 171,000 residents in 1951 today there are now reported to be less than 60,000, although a further 120,000 live on the suburban islands. Venice gets 18 million visitors a year, most of them day trippers,