Venice added to heritage 'watch list' due to cruise tourism threat
World Monuments Fund’s list includes cultural sites in Syria and Mali at risk from military attacks
By Emily Sharpe. Web only
Published online: 08 October 2013
International efforts to preserve Venice for future generations received a much-needed boost today when the city was added to the World Monuments Fund’s 2014 “Watch List” of heritage sites at risk. Cruise tourism has become one of the most significant threats to Venice in recent years as visitors flock to the city while locals move out of the area. Visitor figures have increased by a staggering 400% within the past five years, and during the peak season, an average of 20,000 tourists descend on the city’s historic streets and squares. Locals have had enough: around 50% have moved out within the past decade.
“This will surely get a reaction out of the Italian government. I hope that it will not be rejected as outside interference, but accepted as a sign of loving concern,” says Anna Somers Cocks, the chief executive of The Art Newspaper and the former chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund.
Venice is one of 67 heritage sites in 41 countries added to the fund’s new “Watch List”. It is joined by three other Italian sites, including the historic centre of L’Aquila which was devastated by an earthquake in 2009 and remains inhabitable. Also on the list are the cultural heritage sites of Syria and Mali—the former caught in the crossfire of fighting between rebels and government forces and the latter subjected to systematic attacks by hardline Islamists—and the Grade II-listed Battersea Power Station in London, which was first placed on the fund’s list in 2004. Located on prime real estate along the River Thames, the disused station is due to be redeveloped next year into a £8bn commercial and residential complex.
“The 2014 Watch presents a selection of monuments from around the world in need of both new economic resources and innovative ideas about how to preserve them for future generations. These sites—and countless others like them—recount our human history and highlight our achievements. It takes vigilance to keep them active in the world; yet it is often the case that the very places that provide rich character and texture to our lives need more assistance and attention than they are given,” says the fund’s president, Bonnie Burnham.
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