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'Manners police' to keep Venice tourists in line

Squads to crack down on feeding pigeons, swim suits in St Mark's

15 May, 16:47
'Manners police' to keep Venice tourists in line (ANSA) - Venice, May 15 - 'Decorum monitors' will soon be deployed in Venice's St Mark's Square to keep summer tourists in line with local customs and manners, officials announced Wednesday. Known as the San Marco Guardians, the civilian etiquette squad will be marked by its orange uniforms and will work alongside police asking visitors not to feed pigeons, not to wear swimsuits away from the beach, and to avoid sitting on the ground in front of busy landmarks. The effort is sponsored by Costa Crociere, a major Italian cruise company responsible for bringing on large numbers of tourists to the lagoon city who often outnumber Venetians on peak days. The cruise industry has been under fire since the Costa Concordia crashed off the coast of Tuscany last year, killing 32 people. Many locals in Venice fear that cruise ships pose a risk to to both the lagoon ecosystem, the surrounding architecture and citizens, and that the influx of tourists aboard those ships are threatening local customs and decorum. Last month, Venice launched a campaign called 'Venice Yours Too, Respect It', which consists of 10 guidelines for tourists to respect the city printed in seven languages: Italian, English, Spanish, Japanese, French, Russian and German.

The campaign is also using a mascot, a cartoon winged lion, the symbol of the city.

By some estimates Venice attracts 20 million tourists each year, making the day average in summer up to 90,000, dwarfing the dwindling local population of under 60,000.

The city has implemented a number of good-manners initiatives over the years.