Following the collision between the MSC Opera, a 275m (900ft) long ocean liner, and a small tourist boat, during the opening weeks of the Venice Biennale, ships weighing more than 1,000 tonnes will be banned and rerouted away from the waterways in Venice’s historic quarter, from September.
Last June a cruise ship collided with a dock injuring five people.
Conservationists say the government’s plans don’t go far enough to prevent underwater erosion and pollution in the lagoons. However, from September large ships will be made to dock at the Fusina and Lombardia terminals away from the city centre, the Financial Times reported. By the end of 2020, a third of all ships will be rerouted.
Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, said a major tragedy was narrowly avoided in the MSC Opera incident. He announced earlier this year the introduction of a €3 tourist tax aimed at day-trippers, many of whom arrive by ship. The tax will come into effect as of December 31
Environmentalists have warned that waves created by cruise ships on the canal erode the foundations of the city, which regularly suffers from flooding. Many have also complained that they detract from the beauty of Venice’s historic sites and bring in too many tourists. But the June accident, in which an enormous modern ship – collided with a dock and a small tourist boat, injuring five, in the city’s Giudecca canal, galvanised protesters to call for a definitive ban.
Five thousand passengers and crew often disembark from a single cruise ship. This is causing problems with a city that’s already overcrowded with tourists. Visitor numbers have continually risen, with over 30 million people estimated to visit each year.
The Giudecca, which passes close to the popular St Mark’s Square, is one of Venice’s major waterways. In 2013, the government banned ships weighing more than 96,000 tonnes from the central Giudecca canal, but the legislation was later overturned. In 2017. It was announced that larger ships would be diverted from the historic centre, but the plans were expected to take four years to come into force.
The United Nations has warned that Venice would be placed on the UNESCO list of endangered World Heritage Sites if Italy failed to move the ships from the lagoon. In addition, residents and campaigners have long-protested enormous vessels. An informal referendum in June 2018 revealed that nearly 99% of the 18,000 Venetians who took part were in favour of banning giant cruise ships from the lagoon altogether.
In may, Banksy the Bristol-born artist unveiled a tourist style stand consisting of gilt-framed paintings in the style of Canaletto. They depict a classic Venetian scene with a cruise ship overshadowing the background. The message, Venice is sinking why on earth would you allow cruise ships into the Grand Canel to aggravate the problem.
A video documenting the Banksy incident shows an actor setting up the stall near St Mark’s Square and then being told by the police that as he doesn’t have a license to sell his work, he is asked to pack up and leave.