Large cruise ships are reportedly going to be restricted from sailing through the centre of Venice.
The largest ships of 100,000 tonnes or more will have to take a less glamorous route to the industrial port of Marghera under new rules, which follow a temporary limit imposed three years ago.
Venetians and environmentalists have long voiced concerns over cruise ships sailing close to the fragile city, dwarfing its Gothic and Byzantine churches.
Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro hailed the plan as answering the requirements of residents, the lucrative tourism business, and conservation groups who have raised the alarm about damage to the shallow lagoon and canals, The Guardian reported.
“We want it to be clear to Unesco [the United Nations cultural agency] and the whole world that we have a solution,” Brugnaro said after the meeting of the governmental committee charged with saving Venice.
“This takes into account all the jobs created by the cruise industry, which we absolutely couldn’t afford to lose, and we can start to work seriously on planning cruises.”
Work needs to be carried out on the new route, which will open within four years, infrastructure and transport minister Graziano Delrio said.
Ships of more more than 96,000 tonnes were banned from the Giudecca canal in 2013, while the number of smaller vessels using the waterway was limited to five a day, but that legislation was overturned at the end of 2015.
Venezia Terminal Passeggeri, the company that manages the infrastructures for cruise ships calling at the port of Venice, said it “acknowledged the outcomes of the work carried out by the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Policy, Coordination and Control on Venice lagoon.”
President Gianni Mion said: “While waiting for the publication of the official measure, VTP confirms its willingness to collaborate with all the parties composing the committee and the competent authorities, in particular the Port Authority and Venice Maritime Authority, in order to quickly define the next steps and evaluate the economic and employment implications.
“The professionalism and the competences of the company and its employees represent a well-known asset in the sector and will be a valid support in the analyses of the envisaged solutions.”