‘Costing the Earth: Tourist Tide’, BBC Radio 4, 6th September tried to give a balanced view of the dilemmas posed by tourism’s costs and benefits. This photo predates the current summer of discontent by almost ten years and shows that the challenge posed by huge cruise ships is not new. It also embodies a central dichotomy. The cruise ship is out of scale with Venice and the sudden discharge of 1000s of visitors onto the streets will degrade the experience of the city for everyone – tourism as blight. The photograph was taken from the top of the Hilton Molino Stucky, created out of a great Neo-Gothic building dating from 1884-1895 on Giudecca Island, here paying visitors have rescued of a landmark building – tourism as blessing. It is then a debate about the right kind of tourists. And who is to decide that?
Photo: Giudecca Canal, from Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice, September 2008