THE ongoing debate over whether large cruise ships should be allowed to visit Venice continued to bubble away last month, with mainstream media reports claiming the Italian Government had banned ships larger than 1,000 tonnes from entering the city’s Grand Canal.
Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) Europe was quick to quash the claim however, swiftly releasing a statement refuting reports that any laws pertaining to a ban had been passed by the Italian Government.
“There is currently no ban in place preventing cruise ships from visiting Venice,” the organisation asserted.
“Danilo Toninelli, The Italian Minister for Transport, speaking in the Italian Parliament…reported that he has set up a working group to look at alternative solutions which could see some ships rerouted to the mainland Fusina and Lombardia terminals, but no decision has been made”.
“The cruise industry has worked diligently with the Minister, the Mayor of Venice, the Veneto Region, the Port Authority and many other stakeholders to find viable solutions to allow larger cruise ships to access the Marittima berths without transiting the Giudecca Canal”.
The issue of large cruise ship visitation in Venice heated up this year when MSC Cruises’ 2,679-passenger vessel MSC Opera collided with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s River Countess while attempting to dock at the San Basilio pier in June this year.
The incident earned the ire of the Italian Government at the time, with the country’s Minister of the Environment Sergio Costa taking to Twitter to call for a ban on cruise ships sailing the city’s Giudecca canal.
“Cruise ships must not sail down the Giudecca. We have been working on moving them for months now,” Costa posted in the hours following the collision.
Despite the industry moving towards a resolution on Venice, the waters were made even murkier by Ralph Hollister, Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, who asserted that diverting large cruise ships away from the centre of the city would only have a “limited impact” on over-tourism concerns.
“Rerouting cruise ships away from Venice’s centre will give local residents the impression that their complaints have been taken on board, however, it is probable that redirected tourists will commute to the central islands via large coaches and taxi services instead,” Hollister contended.
“This will spread the issue of over-tourism to new areas outside of the centre, creating traffic congestion that will pollute suburban areas,” he added.