The Italian Government has moved closer to banning large cruise ships from Venice’s Giudecca Canal.
Local residents and UNESCO have been calling for a ban on large vessels sailing through the centre of Venice for some time.
“We want it to be clear to UNESCO and the whole world that we have a solution,” said Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro to local media. “This takes into account all the jobs created by the cruise industry, which we absolutely couldn’t afford to lose, and we can start to work seriously on planning cruises.”
Under the plan, large vessels will be re-routed via Venice’s commercial port. Within a few years, “the big ships … will stop at Marghera’s North Canal. There is no interference with commercial traffic so the two activities can coexist,” Italian Transport Minister Graziano Delrio reportedly said. “The ships will pass [St Mark’s Square) for at least another two or three years, the time to realise the new channel and docks. But the decision is taken.”
UNESCO called for limits on tankers and large cruise ships in the area in 2016, and cruise operators have already complied with voluntary measures.
“The impact of boats and shipping is acknowledged and new measures to manage water traffic, including a ‘Lagoon Vessel Traffic Service System’ are being implemented, as well as self-imposed limits of 96,000 gt by cruise companies,” the organisation said at the time. “Oil tankers still pass through the Lagoon, but their numbers have reduced from the level at the time the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List.”
In June, a referendum was held in the broader Venice metropolitan area on whether the city should ban cruise vessels and halt plans for a new vessel access channel. It succeeded by 17,874 to 126, although voting was said to have been low.