Italy has announced a ban on large cruise ships sailing through the northern city of Venice.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the ban was approved at a Cabinet meeting on July 13 and will come into effect on August 1. She covers the lagoon near St. Mark’s Square and the Giudecca Canal. The lagoon area is used by cruise ships calling at Venice. Venice is built on a system of canals.
Franceschini said the government had decided to act quickly to prevent the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, from adding Venice to its list of World Heritage in Danger sites at an upcoming meeting in China.
UNESCO suggested last month that it might put Venice on the list. The agency says cruise ships – which transport and offload thousands of day-trippers – threaten the surrounding aquatic environment.
The government decree also declared the waterways of St. Mark’s Basin, St. Mark’s Canal and Giudecca Canal a national monument, the minister added.
Ecologists and cultural heritage activists have long sought to institute a ban on cruise ships in Venice. But the plans have been opposed by local business leaders, who argue the ships should be allowed because they bring in so much money.
Franceschini told reporters that the government’s decision was “awaited by UNESCO and by all those who have been to Venice and who have stayed disturbed by the immensity of these passing ships…”
The Italian government had decided on a ban earlier this year but did not immediately set a start date.
The ban covers vessels weighing more than 25,000 tons or more than 180 meters. It also prohibits small vessels that produce too much pollution or could otherwise harm the city’s environment.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office said other ships that are “considered sustainable” to the Venetian environment can continue to stop in Venice. The bureau noted that licensed ships typically carry around 200 passengers compared to the thousands carried by larger cruise ships.
When cruise passengers are dropped off in Venice, they usually only have a few hours to spend in the city. Most passengers end up visiting popular sites like St. Mark’s Square, adding to the city’s already crowded public spaces.
No cars are allowed in historic Venice, made up of narrow passages and many bridges. During the city’s peak tourist season, getting around Venice on foot can be tricky.
The government decree also establishes compensation plans for industry businesses and others affected by the ban.
Authorities plan to search for other possible stopping points for cruise ships in waters outside the heart of Venice. So far, the government has approved at least four temporary sites near the industrial port of Marghera, northwest of the Adriatic Sea.
I am Brian Lynn.
The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.
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words in this story
cruise ship – not. a large ship that looks like a hotel, on which people travel for pleasure
lagoon – not. a lake that contains sea water
channel – not. an artificial river built for the passage of boats
heritage – nm buildings, paintings, customs, etc. that are important in a culture or society because they have been around for a long time
to bother – v. worry or be upset
sustainable – adj.. involving methods that do not completely deplete or destroy natural resources
compensation – not. money that is paid to someone to compensate for loss or damage