What do Venice, Italy & Big Sur, CA have in common?

Several people over the weekend brought my attention to an article in the Guardian, which I usually read in any event. This article, however, is not about the politics I usually read, it is about how tourism is destroying Venice, Italy.


Here is the link to that article: Guardian Article

To entice you to read it, here are a few tidbits:

“Earlier this month an estimated 2,000 Venetians marched against a tourism industry they argue has eroded their quality of life, that is damaging the environment and driving residents away: Venice’s population has fallen from about 175,000 in the post-second world war years to 55,000 today.”

Here in Big Sur, the tourist industry and media accounts are still referring to the same “3 million visitors a year” model that they were using in 1985 when I first moved here. No update on the number of visitors Big Sur is expected to entertain has been provided in the 32 years I have lived here, and it has tripled, quadrupled, or more, in my  conservative estimation, during that time. If Nepenthe is serving 1000 meals a day in normal years, as has been claimed in all the recent news articles, then every single one of the  3 million people coming to Big Sur plus a 1/2 million more, are stopping at that establishment each year, and we know that while Nepenthe is an icon, everyone does not stop there. In fact, most do not.

“… Residents were hoping that Unesco would send a strong signal to the authorities by following through with a threat to place the world heritage site on its endangered list. Instead, the organisation recently granted the city another year to come up with measures to protect its monuments and preserve its fragile environment.

‘It feels as if we’re at a point of no return because it’s already out of control,’ said Beltrame. He would like tourist numbers to be limited, while focusing on improving the quality and promoting the city as a hub for scientific and maritime research.”

Here, we already have the Aquarium, the Marine Sanctuary, and maritime research, and more research on the fragility of our environment, the endangered species that call Big Sur home is needed.

Has the degradation of the experience of Big Sur for locals and tourists alike reached the point of no return here, as well? If we were a UNESCO site,  would we be put on their endangered list?

Come to the Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council’s next meeting on August 11th, 2017 and share in the conversation. Details and Agenda will be posted when made available.