According to The Independent, an Italian government committee has ruled to ban cruise ships over 60,000 tons from docking in the city centre by the year 2021.
Instead, the large ships will bypass the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Square for the mainland at Marghera, a destination that pales in comparison to the photogenic Venice.
The controversial decision comes in the wake of concerns expressed by both locals and activists that the vessels are harming the city’s historical infrastructure as well as the environment.
Venice hosts approximately 30 million tourists annually, according to CNN. While the large cruise ships that enter the city represent a key driver of its tourism-based economy, Venice’s 50,000 or so residents have warned that the city can’t withstand all the attention.
“We want it to be clear to UNESCO and the whole world that we have a solution,” said Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro via The Guardian. “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.”
Ships under the specified mass will continue to travel along the iconic Zattere waterfront and into Venice’s city centre.
While 99 percent of Venetians who voted in an unofficial referendum this past June supported the ban, not everyone is optimistic about the committee’s ruling.
Activist Tommasso Cacciari of the No Grandi Navi (No Big Ships) protest group told The Guardian that the “declaration means nothing.”
“They haven’t found a solution, there is no plan—basically, nothing will change. They say the largest ships will go to Marghera—but where will they put them?” he asked. “They say all of this will be done within four years, but even projects in Dubai do not get completed in that space of time.”
Cacciari also argued that the ban won’t quell environment concerns.
This week’s decision comes four years after authorities banned ships over 105,000 tons from sailing through the city. That ban was subsequently overturned in 2015.