Pressure to pass the ban on large cruise liners has been mounting for years, reaching heights in 2019 when MSC Cruises' ship MSC Opera collided into a harbor and tourist boat, injuring 5 people.
However, no action had been taken until now, spurred in response to the request from UN cultural body UNESCO. According to Italian ministers, the move was “a correct decision, awaited for years”, made to “protect a historical and cultural heritage not only of Italy but of the whole world”.
Instead of sailing through downtown, liners will now follow a canal used by commercial ships to dock at the industrial port of Marghera, which is adjacent to the historic world Heritage Site. The route will be used until a permanent solution is found. The government said it held a “call for ideas”, a competition searching for options for an alternative cruise ship terminal in the port city.
A temporary ban was already in place due to Coronavirus/COVID restrictions, halting the passage of ~1.6 million tourists that visited Venice on ~700 cruise ships annually, something that is said to have improved both the water quality of the lagoon and the quality of life for residents.
Venice depends on tourism but was hit hard by the COVID pandemic. An estimated 6 thousand jobs have been lost so far, with a host of hotels and shops now closed for good.