Masks made in China can be hazardous to your health

21 Feb 2014

Chinese copy of Venetian mask

Tourists in Venice rarely look at the label of the souvenirs they buy. They are probably not even aware that by purchasing “Made in China” products they offend the local businesses and traditions. The tourists demand for memorabilia has created a struggle between cheap imports and locally produced, but more expensive Italian goods. Many local businesses are not able to survive the Chinese competitors and they are forced to leave their own city.

So how do you fight the Chinese invasion in Venice?

The Chinese, offering less quality, but cheaper priced items have long been a problem to businesses in Venice. Over the years, however, the souvenir market has changed, tourists seek cheaper products. Although they are with lesser value from the craftsmanship standpoint, the souvenirs are very affordable.”

The Chinese souvenirs are cheap and they have even began listing the items as “Made in Italy”. Currently there are no strict laws on these imports to Italy. The duty tax is low for foreigners, but taxes are high for local businesses.

In 1773, Venice had officially 12 workshops of mask makers, but today only few remain.
 In the past, “traditional” masks were made using the method called Papier-mache, today this technique is known by only a few remaining number of craftsmen or "Venetian artisans"

Helping the “Venetians” to keep their stores open begins with educating the visitors about Venetian traditions. Bottom line is, next time you decide to buy a cheap “Made in China” product while visiting Venice consider the following:

- You are not taking anything genuine from Venice with you, in fact a digital photo is more authentic then a cheap souvenir.

- You contribute to the failure of local businesses and to the extinction of unique traditional crafts

- Your purchase of foreign products acts as a job killer to the local population

- Consider the safety issue: China is well known for producing products that are hazardous to the health, including lead paint. In fact, even Chinese tourists know better not to purchase “Made in China” products.

- Your money is not supporting Venice or even the Italian economy; you are supporting the government of China.

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