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My name is Kaye and I am a cultural tourist. As a traveller, I recently visited 3 countries in 3½ weeks in Europe. In that time I .. stayed in 5 hotels Visited 6 churches.. 5 art galleries 6 museums 7 historic sites 1 university 1 Biennale art event. I ate 25 breakfasts, 24 lunches and 23 dinners. I bought bottled water and ate local and imported food and wine. I used public transport, trams, boats, chartered buses and domestic and international flights.
I have visited many of these places before, almost 20 years ago, and I reflected on the changes that have come to pass. What happens after I have satisfied my touristic cravings and I leave a place behind? I am interested in my trace, my stain and the marks I leave in my wake.
This is a story of impact...
As we travel through this world, we leave traces of ourselves behind. Be it saliva in a sink..
a cherry pip discarded..
DNA on the sheets we have slept in..
Art work in background: James Turrell
Traces of ourselves remain, if only for a brief moment. I capture the small vestiges of my past experiences in a place. I explore what I have left behind and the impact that has on a place.
My trace symbolises my presence, but not an actual presence; an absent presence, a past presence, a memento, a reminder, an artefact. My photographs capture the brief moment when I have left a space and, just for an instant, a trace of me remains.
Trace is not a presence but an empty simulation of it.
Philosopher Jacques Derrida (1996,p.129) says „The trace is not a presence but is rather the simulacrum of a presence that dislocates, displaces, and refers beyond itself‟.
Trace is an imitation of a past experience, but what effect does this fleeting moment have upon a place?
How does our performance as a tourist effect a place?
What is our role as a cultural and grand tourist within the performance?
As an individual, our personal footprint may have little impact on an environment but, combined, we can have a real and lasting effect.
Our trace effects local trade.
Tourists influence the displays chosen for galleries and museums.
Texts are altered to accommodate the tourists‟ preferred language.
Buildings change as hotels, restaurants and cafés are added to an area.
Tourist information becomes overt as travellers arrive and demand to know about the country and culture.
The crops that are produced are influenced by the tourists‟
need for wine..
Tourists put pressure on public transport systems.
Freight transport is effected by the tourists‟
need for consumer items, souvenirs, food and
Although seemingly inconsequential, my trace has a lasting impact.
So where does this leave us? Grand tourists of old removed, reduced or altered items of great cultural significance. As modern grand tourists, can we find ways to visit a place without destroying it? Are we able to enhance a place that we have visited?
Given the notion of the trace and the stain, I have chosen to use Venice as a case study. I will explore how and why my trace is making a difference to this fragile city.
UNESCO World Heritage listed Venice and its delicate lagoon system are protected by sand islands, which sit along the Adriatic Sea. The wetland area is one of the most rich and fragile ecosystems in the Mediterranean (Da Mosto 2010).
The buildings of Venice are constructed on closely spaced wooden stilts 10 to 15 feet tall and 2 to 4 inches in diameter. The foundations rest precariously on the stilts, and buildings of brick or stone sit above these footings (Archaeology 1996, p. 42).
By the Middle Ages Venice had become one of the most wealthy and powerful port cities in all of Europe, making its fortune through the distribution of trade from the spice route (Burke 1987). For centuries Venice has been considered an international city.
Today, however, Venice has become so popular that tourism has created a crisis of economic, social, demographic and above all, cultural proportions (Russo 1999).
Venice is inundated each summer with roughly 60,000 tourists per day and over 17 million each year (Allsop 2009, Pagnotta 2011). This causes residents to flee the island at an alarming rate of 1,500 per year (Hooper 2006,p.34). In the 1950s Venice's population stood at 184,000. In 2000 the population was less than 70,000, dropping to below 60,000 residents in 2009 (Hooper 2006, Allsop 2009)
Tourism has taken over historical Venice, so much so that there are three tourists for every two residents (Russo 2002, Lodge 2011). People have moved onto the mainland to get away from the overwhelming predominance of tourism and its “crowding out” effect on the local economy (Zanetto 1986, Zanetto 1998, Russo 2002).
Peggy Guggenheim Venice, 1950
Mass tourism has caused: rising house costs
difficulties finding employment outside of tourism
depreciation in the quality of life of residents because of overcrowding and congestion in public spaces, on transport, and with other services (Russo 1999)
City officials considered introducing visitor cards to limit the flow of tourists to the city, especially from day trippers, who arrive by bus and spend little money. (Russo 1990) City officials reported that one day, 60,000 Czechoslovaks poured into the city in 1,200 buses. (Russo 1990)
The major environmental problems from mass tourism include the following.. (1) Pollution of Land: caused largely by the massive amounts of tourists.
(2) Pollution of water: due to litter from tourists and from illegal sewage dumping from overloaded systems.
(3) Pollution of air: causes species loss and destruction of monuments, buildings and artwork.
Critically, it is Venice's culture that is under threat, especially the preservation of local heritage (Pagottna 2011). „There are no more people, there is no more culture, there is no Venetian way of life, and the city is every day more like a museum‟ Matteo Secchi (2009) spokesman for local protest group, venessia.com. The goal for the city is to remain a living entity and not be transformed into Italy's Disneyland (Hooper 2006, p.34, Lodge 2011, p.44)
Not surprisingly, the city has developed a love-hate relationship with tourism, with the two groups in continual conflict: one living off tourism, the other in spite of it (Costa & Van der Borg 1988).
Even so, Venice is a very good case for unsustainable mass tourism.
Even in 1866, people were feeling an empathy with Venice and a responsibility for her fate:
I found it a sad condition of my perception of the beauty of Venice and friendship with it, that I came in some unconscious way to regard her fate as my own, and when I began to write the sketches which go to form this book, it was as hard to speak of any ugliness in her, or of the doom written against her in the hieroglyphic seams and fissures of her crumbling masonry, as if the fault and penalty were mine. from Venetian Life by William Dean Howells
as cited in Lodge (2011).
You may go then, as I did, in the spirit of the Biennale to play in Venice, but „the city of mirrors may make you reflect on authenticity, on what you can best do to keep its beautiful fabric alive as more than a theatrical backdrop for the antics of strangers‟. (Lodge 2011)
This leaves us with a few
What lasting effect did your trace leave on Venice?
Our absent- presence does make a difference...
can we do more than tread lightly?
Some Suggested Sustainable and Eco Tourism Ideas..
• Use water sparingly. Many communities face water shortages and water usage costs money. • Carry a Reusable Water Bottle. • Save electricity. Turn off lights, air conditioners, and heaters when you are not in the room. • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.. Always try to use less - reduce. Recycle if the country you‟re in accommodates recycling. If not, think of new uses for products before you throw them away. • Use local and public transport whenever possible. • Buy Local, Eat Local. • Don’t litter! • Don’t buy products made from endangered species or valuable, historical, or cultural artefacts. • Don’t pick up and take home natural resources such as shells, plants, animal bones, etc. • Use accommodations that have a reputation for being sustainable. Sustainability can mean many things: they recycle, use alternative forms of energy, are owned by or employ locals, contribute to local causes.
Sustainable travel information
Sustainable Travel International https://sustainabletravelinternational.org/documents/op_carboncalcs.html National Geographichttp://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/specials/sus-dest/sus-destgeotourism.html Guardian Newspaper Article – Venicehttp://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/aug/26/italy.travelnews Save Venice Organizationhttp://www.savevenice.org/ Venice in Perilhttp://www.veniceinperil.com/ Pro Venice Websitehttp://www.venessia.com/
Allsop, L 2011, Battling to keep the 'real' Venice afloat, viewed 1st September 2011,<http://www.realvenice.org/img/db/press-image/cusersgeorgianadesktoppresscuttingspress-cuttingscnn---9-june-2011-920.pdf> Burke, P 1987, The Historical Anthropology of Early Modern Italy: Essays on Perception and Communication, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Derrida, J, Allison, D & Garver, N, 1996, Speech and phenomena: and other essays on Husserl's theory of signs, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, IL.
Da Mosto, J 2010, „Venice‟s Ecosystem and Waterways‟, Nature, vol. 467 September, pp. 529.
Hooper, J 2006, „Population Decline set to Turn Venice into Italy's Disneyland‟, The Guardian, 26 August, p.34. Lennon, J 2001,Tourism Statistics: International Perspectives and Current Issues, Continuum, London. Lodge, S 2011, „Venice Observed‟,The Weekly Standard, vol.16 no.36, pp.34.
Reference List continued.
Martin, C 2010, „Venice's Fragile Lagoon‟, Nature, vol.467 no.7315, pp.529. Merali, Z 2002, „Saving Venice. An Ambitious Plan Seeks to Prevent a Modern Atlantis‟, Scientific America, vol.16 August, pp.57. Newman, C 2009, „Vanishing Venice‟, National Geographic, vol.216 no.2, pp.88.
O'Neill, Bill 1990, „Venice Turns the Tide on its Polluted Lagoon‟, New Scientist, vol. 125 February, pp.29
Pagnotta, P 2011, „Venice City In Peril‟, Art and Design, vol.11 August, pp.14. Quinna, B 2007, „Performing Tourism Venetian Residents in Focus‟, Annals of Tourism Research, vol.34 no.2, pp.458-476. Russo, A 1999, „Coping with Culture Vultures‟, Unesco Courier, vol.521 no.7/8, pp.42.
Image Reference List
http://irenebrination.typepad.com/irenebrination_notes_on_a/2009/03/on-peggyguggenheims-collection-and-sunglasses-.html http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/venice/review2.php http://www.idiom.com/~drjohn/16.html http://www.medievalwalltapestry.com/europeancities.html
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