Italy Bans Large Cruise Ships From Venice Lagoon

Italy has banned large cruise ships from entering the Venice lagoon, days before a United Nations cultural body convenes over proposals to add  the city to its endangered world heritage sites.

“From August 1, large ships will no longer be able to reach Venice through the St. Mark’s Basin, the St. Mark’s Canal, or the Giudecca Canal,” Infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini said.

The limit affects ships weighing over 25,000 tons or those that are longer than 180 meters or higher than 35 meters.

Giovannini called the ban a “necessary step to protect the environmental, landscape, artistic, and cultural integrity of Venice.”

“The decree adopted today represents an important step for the protection of the Venetian lagoon system,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in a statement.

The ships will be diverted to the industrial port of Marghera, which will be repurposed for passenger use with a €157 million ($185 million) investment.

“The Marghera solution would maintain port activity in Venice: on the one hand safeguard jobs and activities, and on the other free up the Giudecca Canal on the other,” tourism association Confturismo Vice President Marco Michielli said, as quoted by AFP News.

However, the diversion to the Marghera port is seen as only a temporary solution as ministers are calling for ideas on a new permanent terminal, AFP News reported.

The government has appointed a commissioner to fast-track the process.

The government also said that workers and companies affected by the ban would receive compensation.

The ban came after the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization had proposed to add Venice to a list of endangered world heritage sites, following years of warnings that the large cruise ships has caused severe damage to the lagoon.

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