Italy to keep cruise ships away from central Venice  

By: AFP      Published: 01:23 AM, 26 Mar, 2021
Italy to keep cruise ships away from central Venice  

Cruise ships will no longer sail past Venice's iconic St Mark's Square and will be made to dock at the lagoon city's industrial port, the Italian government said Thursday. 

Ministers for infrastructure, culture, tourism and the environment jointly took the decision "to protect a cultural and historical heritage that belongs not only to Italy but to the entire world", a statement said.

However, getting cruise ships to dock at Marghera port -- rather than in the tourist terminal in Venice's historic centre -- is only a "temporary" solution, it added.

The four ministers announced a "call for ideas" to create a cruise ship terminal outside the lagoon "and give a structural and definitive solution to the problem of large ship transit in Venice". 

Before the coronavirus pandemic brought the industry to a halt, cruise ship traffic boomed in Venice, bringing millions of extra visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage city. 

But to critics, giant tourist vessels were an eyesore and potential safety hazard, passing exceptionally close to Venice's historic buildings, as well as a threat to the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon.  

Cruise ships in Italy are currently blocked as part of lockdown measures against the coronavirus pandemic. In the country, more than 106,000 people have died with Covid-19.