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New calls for Venice to ban cruise ships after harbour crash

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New calls for Venice to ban cruise ships after harbour crash
A protestor at a previous demonstration against cruise ships in Venice. Photo: AFP
12:08 CEST+02:00
Italy's government is discussing whether giant cruise ships should be allowed in Venice after one lost control, hitting a tourist boat and crashing into the pier.

The Italian government is trying to “find a solution” to the problems caused by large cruise ships docking in Venice after one ship crashed into the harbour on Sunday.

Terrified tourists at Venice's harbour could be seen running away in video footage as the massive 13-deck cruise ship suffered an engine failure and lost control while docking.

 
The MSC Opera ship, which can carry 2,500 passengers, scraped along the dockside before knocking into a tourist boat and crashing into the wharf.
 
 
Four people were injured in the accident at San Basilio-Zattere in Venice's Giudecca Canal, port authorities said.
 
Video footage shared on social media sparked protests and renewed calls for Venice to ban the mega cruise ships from its waters.
 
Local organisation No Grandi Navi (No big ships) protested after the incident and have another demonstration planned for Saturday.
 
 
The MSC Opera crashed into the harbour after an engine failure. Photo: AFP
 
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli said in an interview on Monday that the government is “in favour" of stopping big ships docking in the centre of the city.
 
However he spoke of the need to balance environmental protection with the city's huge tourism economy.

"We have been working with utmost resolution for months to resolve a problem that has been left to rot for too many years," Toninelli said in an interview published in La Stampa on Monday.

“It is necessary to find alternatives so that Venice does not lose cruise tourism," he said.

Cruise ships that sail exceptionally close to the shore have been blamed for damage to the lagoon city's foundations and the fragile ecosystem, and criticised for the high levels of pollution they emit.

Meanwhile the thousands of daytrippers descending from cruise ships are accused of overwheming the main tourist sights and contributing little to the local economy.

Enormous cruise ships looming in the background are now a familiar sight as gondoliers row tourists around the quaint narrow canals of Venice.

A vast cruise ship looming over Venice's monuments was the subject of a Banksy artwork in the city at the end of May. Photo: AFP

READ ALSO: Banksy in Venice? New work appears and perhaps the artist himself

"There are institutional talks that are moving forward and a meeting is already scheduled with other ministers concerned to reach a definitive solution, without shortcuts, that covers the tourist economy and environmental protection," Toninelli said.

"After years of stalling, we are close to a solution that is capable of finally holding together all the interests on the field,” he said, adding that the government will make a decision in June.

Measures were approved back in 2017 to rid the centre of Venice of cruise ships weighing over 55,000 tons, but the rules are not set to come into effect until 2021.

In recent years, frustrated Venetians have staged frequent protests against the mass tourism which has pushed up rents and forced many families out of their hometown. 

 
Cruise ships have been a particular target of these protests, with groups such as No Grandi Navi staging demonstrations in the past.
 
The group held an unofficial vote in 2017, in which almost 99 percent of people voted to ban the vessels from the lagoon.

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