Italy has finally decided to ban cruise liners from the Venice lagoon.
The Government has acted as UNESCO proposed putting Venice on a World Heritage watchlist due to its failure to ban large ships.
The ban takes effect from 1 August and prohibits ships weighing more than 25,000 tonnes from the Giudecca Canal which effectively means all the bigger cruise ships cannot use the current terminal situated very conveniently to the railway station and the start of the waterways.
Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the Government acted “to avoid the concrete risk” of being placed on the UNESCO blacklist.
It also “establishes an unbreakable principle, by declaring the urban waterways of St Mark's Basin, St Mark's Canal and the Giudecca Canal a national monument,” the minister added.
For many years, sentiment on cruise ship visits has been quite evenly split between local businesses grateful for the revenue and environmentalists and concerned residents fed up with overcrowding and pollution.
"The decree adopted today represents an important step for the protection of the Venetian lagoon system," Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said.
Draghi said that funds will be dispersed to businesses to mitigate the loss of revenues caused by the cruise ship ban.
An alternative permanent location is being sought but for the short-term, large ships will be diverted to the industrial port of Marghera which means a difficult 20min drive, or the possibility of using the ships’ tenders, which will meet resistance from local small boat operators. Marghera is not ready, and it looks like for the immediate future cruise operators will have to give Venice a miss. The decision is a bonus for the smaller ship operators and the new generation of ‘explorer’ style vessels.