Accused of endangering the historic center of Venice, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, large cruise ships will be banned from the 1is August, the Italian government announced on Tuesday.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi welcomed “An important step for the preservation of the Venetian lagoon”, subjected for decades to the continual sweeping of ocean liners pouring millions of visitors into the city of the Doges.
Vessels over 25,000 gross tonnage, over 180 meters in length, 35 meters in air draft, or whose emissions contain more than 0.1% sulfur will no longer be allowed to enter the vessel. basin and canal of San Marco and the Giudecca canal.
They will have to moor in the industrial port of Marghera, where improvements will be made, while smaller cruise ships (around 200 passengers) will be able to continue to dock in the heart of the city, a government statement said.
Defenders of heritage and the environment have for years denounced the scourge of large ships that threaten the fragile ecosystem of the lagoon and the foundations of its historic center.
The debate was revived last month with the return of cruises after months of the Covid-19 pandemic which had returned the Venetians to calm and clean air.
With this decision, Italy wanted “Avoid the concrete risk of the city being included on the list of endangered heritage”, said Minister of Culture and Heritage Dario Franceschini.
Time was running out because Unesco’s advisory bodies proposed this inscription at the end of June and the World Heritage Committee must decide at its meeting in China from July 16 to 31.
Inscription on the list of heritage in danger may allow the committee to grant rapid assistance to the site concerned within the framework of the World Heritage Fund. But it is also used to “Alert the international community in the hope that it will mobilize to save the sites concerned” and can also be perceived “Like a dishonor”, according to Unesco. Above all, if nothing is done in the long term, the site can be removed from the World Heritage list.