Summary – Celebrities including British stars Sir Michael Caine and Julie Christie had backed the campaign.
An international campaign to ban large cruise liners from Venice has been successful, with the Italian government confirming massive ships will be blocked from the city centre from 2015.
British celebrities such as Sir Michael Caine and Julie Christie had supported a petition lobbying for a change in the law, with cruise ships currently able to pass within sight of the iconic St Mark’s Square.
Despite the victory for the campaign, there is already opposition to the Italian government’s proposal to create an alternative route into Venice for cruise liners, reports the Telegraph.
Gianfranco Bettin, a councillor for the Greens Party, stated that councils will need to be involved before a decision can be made on the plans.
Transport minister Maurizio Lupi was among those to approve plans to block cruise liners from Venice, which is known as the Queen of the Adriatic and listed by Unesco as a World Heritage site.
He said: “It seems to me to be a balanced solution which takes account of our duty to remove the skyscrapers of the sea from the canals of Venice, while safeguarding a world heritage city that is the envy of the world and protecting the city’s economy which is so linked to cruise tourism.”
Cruise lines digest plans to limit Venice visits
The Italian government announced its intention to impose limitations from January with a 20% cut, while cruise ships of more than 96,000 tonnes will be banned from the centre of the historic city from November 2014.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s office also announced plans to open up a new canal to the city to allow big vessels to enter the city by an alternative route.
The Cruise Lines International Association (Clia) yesterday attempted to view the decision in a positive light despite the likely impact on member lines which see Venice as a highlight of many Mediterranean itineraries.
Clia said it viewed the announcement from Rome as a “positive on-going commitment of the representatives of the Italian institutions to find a sustainable and long-term solution for the city of Venice. This goal is shared by the cruise industry”.
However, the organisation added: “We are in the process of determining the impact of the decision, and any estimation or evaluation at this time is premature.
“Venice is consistently rated as the number one European cruise destination for our industry and we look forward to further strengthening our role as a key contributor to the economic vitality of Venice.”
Environmentalists have long protested against giant cruise ships passing through Venice, arguing that they damage the city’s fragile lagoon.