Venice cruise ship ban to drive out tourists

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A cruise ship close to Venice's Piazza San Marco. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP
12:20 CET+01:00
The Italian government has decided to ban the biggest cruise ships from Venice, driving out tourists in a bid to save the UNESCO World Heritage Site from crumbling.

The move is set to cut traffic in the lagoon by the famous Piazza San Marco by 45 percent, reversing the trend which has seen cruise ship tourism to Venice increase by 400 percent over the past five years.

The ban will be introduced in phases. From 1st January 2014, there will be a 20 percent reduction in the number of ships bigger than 40,000 tonnes allowed to dock in the lagoon, according to a report in Corriere. Then from November next year only ships smaller than 96,000 tonnes will be able to cruise past Piazza San Marco. 

The docking space will also be reduced, meaning no more than five cruise ships above 40,000 tonnes can descend on Venice at one time. 

The decision was taken by Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Tuesday, with Environment Minister Andrea Orlando, Infrastructure Minister Maurizio Lupi and Massimo Bray, Italy’s culture minister. The politicians also worked with the Venice port authority and the city council to reach the agreement, Corriere said.

Announcing the news on Twitter (below), Letta said “Today we have taken the decision to block the huge boats to Venice. We are sure that everyone will do their part to make sure it works”.

The news comes after local residents launched a ‘No Big Ships’ (‘No Grandi Navi’) campaign, swimming in the Venice lagoon in September to protest the large cruise ships.

Last month a report by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) said cruise ship tourism is “pushing Venice to an environmental tipping point and undermining the quality of life for its citizens”.

SEE ALSO: Tourism pushes Venice to 'tipping point'

The government’s decision was welcomed by Venice Mayor Giorgio Orsoni, who said it was the first time the government has taken concrete action on the issue.

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“It’s important and today to finally change the trend of gigantic ships in the lagoon. Enough of the mega cruise ships,” he told Corriere.

READ MORE: Venice imposes new canal rules after crash

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