Venice Flooding: What it Means for Tourists

The highest tidewaters in more than 50 years caused extreme flooding throughout the historic and quaint waterways of Venice, Italy and now travelers are reconsidering their plans to visit. Starting November 12, tides six feet higher than average rolled through the picturesque alleyways and world-famous squares and cathedrals of Venice, causing more than 100 million euros worth of damage and discouraging tourism for fear of getting caught in a deluge.


Extreme flooding in Venice, usually starting in November and lasting through the winter months, has become a more regular occurrence in recent years, largely attributed to the rising of sea levels globally and the slow sinking of the city itself. Unfortunately this means that the flooding could become even worse in coming years, threatening priceless historical and cultural treasures and the lives and property of Venice residents.


But what does the flooding mean for those with plans to travel to Venice or hoping to visit in the coming years? For now, the mayor says the city is still open for tourists despite the flooding, though they should bring a waterproof pair of galoshes and rain gear to stay dry, especially if visiting during the winter months.


Travel insurance can also help to protect tourists, if they fear flood waters will inundate their Venetian vacation. Trip cancellation may be able to help ensure reimbursement if a flood event occurs, but be sure to check your policy details carefully as coverage may differ from plan to plan. Otherwise, cancel for any reason coverage, an optional add-on for trip insurance plans, can help to recoup up to 75 percent of all non-refundable trip costs (i.e. flights, hotel reservations, tour tickets) if you need to cancel your trip for a non-covered reason. 


Other high tides are expected in the coming weeks, as is normal for this time of year, but none are anticipated to be as severe as the historic tide and flooding on November 12. In fact, as of November 20, many businesses and restaurants had reopened for business, returning some semblance of normalcy to the usually bustling floating city. No flights have been canceled into Venice and gondolas and water taxis are back up and running.


What still remains to be seen, however, is a solid plan for Venice and other at-risk cities near rising coastlines to prevent future flooding related to climate change and rising sea levels to protect the cities they love, and the tourism that supports them.


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