Venice dodges UNESCO list of endangered heritage sites – again

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Venice dodges UNESCO list of endangered heritage sites – again
Tourists walk across St Mark's Square in Venice. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

Venice on Thursday once again escaped inclusion on the UNESCO ‘danger list’ after the organisation rejected previous expert recommendations and praised the city’s entry fee plan.


Venice will not be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger list after a panel voted on Thursday to reject the recommendation of agency experts who had said the floating city was facing “irreversible” damage due to climate change, mass tourism and development. 

While recognising that “further progress still needs to be made for proper conservation”, the UNESCO Committee said it would have been “premature” to put Venice on the list.

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It commended recent preservation efforts, including the plan to trial a long-delayed ‘tourist tax’ aimed at curbing the number of day-trippers descending on the city, and recommended that Rome organise a new advisory mission in Venice in the coming months to monitor the effectiveness of recently introduced measures.

This was not the first time the floating city has narrowly escaped inclusion on UNESCO’s danger list. 

In 2021, member states voted against the proposal just after the Rome government banned large cruise ships from sailing into the St Mark Basin and the Giudecca Canal. 

Venice, gondolas

Tourists enjoy gondola rides along one of Venice's famous canals in early September. Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

The committee’s decision on Thursday drew a victory cheer from mayor Luigi Brugnaro, who saw the verdict as proof that “Venice is not at risk″. 

Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, he added: “The world has understood all the work we have done to save our city”.

Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano shared Brugnaro’s sentiment, saying the decision was “a victory for Italy and common sense”.

But many were left bitterly disappointed by the Committee’s vote, not least the grassroots groups in Venice that had petitioned UNESCO’s general director Audrey Azoulay to include the city in the endangered heritage list.


“When you see how beautiful Venice is, what an incredible lifestyle the city can offer, when mass tourism isn’t killing it, you realise that Venice is to some extent wasted on short-term visitors,″ Jane Da Mosto, executive director of the NGO We Are Here Venice, told AP. 

She added: “Venice is a place where more people should be able to live and create more lives and families and jobs and exciting work opportunities.″

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Just as the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting loomed last week, Venice’s housing activists announced that the number of tourist beds had officially surpassed the number of residents: 49,693 versus 49,304.

Though the city’s depopulation trend started as far back as the early 1950s, when local residents amounted to 175,000, Venice has over the decades done little to solve the problem. 

It remained unclear whether local authorities’ long-discussed plans to limit short-term tourist rentals will ultimately be implemented.


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