David Pozzati

Florence Mass Tourism

Over the last ten years, Florence has availed itself of an unstoppable growth in tourism: In the year 2019 tourist presences in the city reached 22 million, as claimed by the CTS (Center for the Study of Tourism of Florence) most of them flocking to the city centre.
Hotels always booked, restaurants full of customers, endless queues for the museums, tourists streaming through the narrow streets of the city. From €22 million in 2014 the city grossed nearly €50 million in 2018, from the city tax alone. With this amount, together with revenues from other sources (bus, hotel, museum tickets and restaurants) the city had an income of nearly € 3.4 billion, in the year 2018.
Airbnb and apartment rental agencies have taken the place of the locals who have moved out to the outskirts of the city, due to the increasingly high price of apartments.
Many historical shops have closed to make way for famous fashion shops and restaurants putting Florence on a par with other European cities.
In order to face the increasing demand of tourists, over the years the historic city centre has been completely changed, losing its identity and making life for the few locals that have remained so unbearable that they have started to refer to their city as “Disneyland”.
This is what was happening until the arrival of Coronavirus, when, suddenly, all income stopped.
For a city like Florence, which for more than a decade has based the greater part of its income exclusively on tourism, the spread of Coronavirus was a dramatic event with many companies and shops forced to close.
After two years of Covid restrictions, the situation has returned to “normality” – mass tourism is back, stronger than before.
Over the past two years, local authorities haven’t been able to take advantage of the situation that the pandemic had offered, and have started re-evaluating their activities in tourism.
In few words they have overlooked the need for a tourism system that embraces new perspectives for better organization, developing a more structured, slower and better quality tourism and re-thinking the way in which what the city offers is being consumed.
An offer to tourists that is able to promote the artistic and cultural heritage with activities that create greater awareness and avoid mindless mass exploitation by visitors.