Plans for a new cruise terminal away from the historic heart of Venice have been proposed by the city’s port chief.

The construction of a new port for large cruise ships in neighbouring Marghera Port, three miles from St Mark’s Square, is being recommended by Venezia Terminal Passeggeri director general Galliano di Marco. The port is currently used by cargo ships and out of sight of tourists and locals.

In January 2014, cruise ships of more than 96,000 tons – typically those carrying 3,000‑plus passengers – were banned from the St Mark’s and Giudecca canals. The Italian government imposed the ban because of the environmental damage ships do to the city.

Cruise lines respected the ban, which was lifted the following year.

Since then there have been a number of protests about visiting cruise ships and tourists.

Di Marco said: “Other plans have been put forward, but they have been either rejected by Venice or by the cruise companies so we will be putting [Marghera Port] forward.

“It is time for the dispute to end. It is damaging and disruptive for the cruise industry and tourism in Venice. If the planning permission is given we could have a new cruise port by the end of 2021.”

Venice received more than 1.5 million cruise passengers in 2015. Di Marco hopes a new port could lift that figure to closer to the 2.6 million who visit Barcelona.

Andy Harmer, Clia director for the UK and Ireland, said: “If the expansion of Marghera Port ensures that larger ships can be handled safely as well as addressing the concerns of local residents, then Clia would of course welcome this development.”

Cruise118 product and commercial director Alison Earnshaw said: “This is great news for the cruise trade. But cruise companies will need to go in with a different approach and stay longer and encourage overnight stays.”