Travel industry leaders should “listen very carefully” to complaints of ‘over-tourism’ by local communities, says Carnival Corporation chief executive Arnold Donald.
The Carnival Corporation chief responded to recent protests against mass tourism in Venice by acknowledging the city is “overrun” and said “a bit of regulation” would help.
However, Donald insisted: “I don’t think cruise is the issue with the numbers crowding Venice.”
The head of the world’s biggest cruise group told Travel Weekly: “We have to listen very carefully and closely to locals. We know an unhappy crew means unhappy guests.
“When guests get off the ship, unhappy locals mean unhappy guests. The locals have to be happy. We have to listen to them.”
Donald said: “There are 25 million tourists a year to Venice. Cruise ships [bring] one million of them. We are clearly not the problem, but we have to be part of the solution.
“Cruise ships are symbolic. People see a big old ship and think ‘tourism’. It is emotive – people’s precious city is being ‘overrun’. Their beautiful site is being ‘desecrated’.
“We need to listen to their concerns and be sensitive to them and respectful in handling folks off our ships.”
He added: “Then we need to go beyond that to be part of the solution.
“The solution is a bit of regulation, but it is for them to develop local solutions and for us to help because Venice is overrun.”
Donald identified over-tourism as one of two key issues for Carnival Corporation. He said: “We want our guests to be safe, and we want to keep destinations great for locals and, through them, great for our guests.”
Several thousand Venetians staged a demonstration against mass tourism in July. One of the organisers, university researcher Carlo Beltrame, warned: “If we go on this way, Venice will be populated only by tourists.”
Unesco has threatened to place Venice on its list of endangered world heritage sites. The UN organisation has given the Venetian authorities a year to develop measures to tackle over-tourism.
Donald will address the UK industry’s Travel Convention in the Azores in October. The Convention is hosted by UK association Abta.