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Tourist – citizen or cash cow?

Di Antonio Caneva, 8 Luglio 2005

And it is suddenly Sardinia. The first summer heat, sweltering cities, and then the liberating relief of a regenerating bath in the Sardinian sea.
It has become commonplace to say that yes, Sardinia is beautiful, but…. And the “buts” follow as a rigmarole of complaints. I have recently been to Poltu Quatu, near the Emerald Coast, and found – on the contrary – a unique habitat, a peaceful atmosphere, and the welcome of gentle and hospitable people.
One of the things I generally resent about tourist destinations is the punitive attitude often displayed towards the visitors, who are viewed as cows to milk, to be kept in a parallel world, separate from residents, where everything is more expensive and difficult. I can mention the examples of Venice, charging tourists a price even to access churches that are open to worship, and exacting a fare of five (5) euros to ride a boat, while residents only pay one euro (imagine if differentiated fares were introduced for public transport in the cities!), or Florence, where tourist buses have to pay a fee to drive into town, or even – and this is almost ridiculous – Alto Adige, where they are discussing a tax for non-residents to drive across the Dolomitic passes (and local operators wonder why in neighbouring Austria, in Innsbruck or St Anton, the Milanese dialect is more frequently spoken than in Via Montenapoleone in Milan), and so on and so forth.
Near Porto Cervo there is a beautiful long beach called Liscia Ruja, which in the past used to be freely accessible, with free parking. At some point during the summer season, however, there was indescribable chaos, to the point that even a fire-police van could not have driven through to bring aid in case of need. This year I went back to that beach after a long time, and found that there were no-parking signs along the dust road, while cars were directed to the authorised lots for pay parking. I felt initially annoyed, but then I reflected that it was the only possible way to manage that area in an orderly way, and that the new rule was being applied to everybody, residents as well as non-residents who were temporarily sharing the local way of life. This I believe is the correct attitude, making tourists perceive that they are temporarily included as part of a community, with the same rights and duties. Tourists will probably reciprocate by showing greater care, trying not to damage things which belong to them, too, even though for a short period of time.

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