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.
“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
“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.