Venice Ban Cruise Ships, Triggers Debate
According to a new decree that came into effect on August 1st, cruise ships and liners weighing over 25,000 tons or longer than 180 metres will be banned from the shallow Giudecca Canal in Venice. The city lagoon will allow only small passenger ferry vessels and freight vessels to enter the premises.
The Italian government passed the decree immediately, saying the decision was taken to “protect and conserve the environmental, artistic and the rich cultural heritage of Venice city”. However, UNESCO’s decision to include Venice in the list of ‘endangered’ UNESCO World Heritage Sites may be the crucial reason behind the decision.
UNESCO had earlier expressed concern about the effect of tourism and the cruise industry on the city’s architectural and cultural heritage. Additional factors affecting these are climate change and extreme weather events that perpetuated this move. And many residents have also expressed their frustration over the presence of these large vessels, describing them as “eye-sores”.
The ban comes after a cruise ship, the first since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic; the MSC Orchestra had sailed to the lagoon in early June, drawing ire from hundreds of people who protested the return of giant cruise ships.
As a proactive response, the government initiated a temporary landing solution directed at the Marghera industrial port. A new docking area is also planned in this region that will accommodate huge vessels until a long-term solution is made.
The prohibition is a great victory for several organisations that have long protested the ban on cruise ships. Tommaso Cicciari, the leader of the activist group, No Grandi Navi (No Big Ships), has expressed satisfaction over the ban.
The ban is a severe blow for the workers in the cruise ship and marine tourism industry.
Many workers expressed their discontent over the ban and said that before undertaking such a big decision, the opinion of all stakeholders should have been considered. In addition, many described the move as a crime against the workers. However, the government assured both workers and companies that the ban affects them and that they will get compensation.
The government is, in fact, working on an alternative docking port at the nearby industrial port of Marghera, but it is far from ready.
Many also believe that the ban will reduce the number of tourists arriving in the city, directly impacting the tourism industry and having a ripple effect on other sectors closely linked to it.