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Italy's news in English
Venice bans large cruise ships from centre after Unesco threat of ‘endangered’ status
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
AFP/The Local email@example.com @thelocalitaly 14 July 2021 10:23 CEST
Larger cruise ships will be banned from sailing into the centre of Venice from August 1st, Italy has announced, after Unesco's threat to add the city to its list of endangered heritage sites.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced on Tuesday that the ships would no longer be able to sail into the lagoon, after years of warnings about their impact on the local ecosystem.
The decision comes just days before a meeting of the UN’s cultural organisation Unesco, which had said it would rule on whether to add Venice to its endangered list.
Venice was put on Unesco’s heritage list in 1987 as an “extraordinary architectural masterpiece”, but the body warned last month of the need for “more sustainable tourism management”.
After years of debate, Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the government had decided to act now “to avoid the real risk of the city’s inclusion on the endangered world heritage list”.
However some people in Venice said they remained sceptical on Wednesday, as the government has previously passed a series of decrees supposedly ‘banning’ cruise ships, which did not in fact result in them being removed from the lagoon.
The vice-president of tourism association Confturismo, Marco Michielli, said the new law represented a “good compromise”.
“The Marghera solution would maintain port activity in Venice, on the one hand safeguard jobs and activities, and on the other free up the Giudecca Canal on the other,” he said.
The issue of cruise ships in Venice has sparked global debate, and last month celebrities and cultural figures including Mick Jagger, Francis Ford Coppola and Richard Armstrong, director of the New York’s Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum, issued a call for action.
In an open letter to the Italian government calling for a range of measures to better protect the city, they warned the historic site risked being “swept away” by cruise ships.