Venice announces a ban on all large cruise and container ships from entering the historic city centre and St Mark’s Square to prevent further damage to the city’s delicate foundations, and to avoid making the list of World Heritage Sites ‘in danger’.
What is Happening?
- Earlier this year in April, the Italian city of Venice announced a ban on large cruise and container ships from entering the Giudecca canal, which leads into the city centre and most notably, the historic St Mark‘s Square.
- Despite the decision, cruise ships have returned in recent weeks after pandemic restrictions were lifted.
- Now, Italian authorities have finally made it official and will be banning all large cruise ships from entering the city centre from August 1 onwards as part of “an important step for the safeguarding of the Venetian lagoon” and protect the “environmental, artistic and cultural heritage of Venice“ said in a government statement.
- The new ban, which applies to ships weighing more than 25,000 tons, more than 590 feet long, or more than 115 feet high, will be rerouted through the Venice lagoon, and dock at the industrial port of Marghera instead, at least until a permanent solution is found for an alternative cruise port.
- The decision for the cruise ship ban was in response to UN body UNESCO’s draft proposal to place Venice on the endangered World Heritage List – a similar recommendation was given to the Great Barrier Reef that the Australian government managed to delay, which cited cruise ships to be a main consideration factor.
- It’s been known that passing ships have been destabilising Venice‘s already fragile foundations and rattle the underwater wooden piles that provide the structure of the “Floating City”. Additionally, the water splashes from when ships pass through the narrow canals have been causing ancient bricks and stone to crumble and deteriorate.
- The government of Italy had been hesitant to stop cruise traffic as they generate billions of euros for the economy and support a substantial workforce in the local cruise industry.
- Following the ban, the government has said to compensate the industry for any cancellations and to help pay lay-off benefits for 42,000 local workers currently employed.
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Featured image by: Wikimedia Commons