Venice mayor begs Unesco to put city on blacklist after cruise ship crash

Locals says they feel ‘in danger’

Helen Coffey
Thursday 20 June 2019 17:13
Cruise ship collides with tourist boat in Venice

The mayor of Venice has threatened to request that Unesco put the city on its “blacklist” over an ongoing battle with cruise ships.

Luigi Brugnaro said Venice residents had no faith in the Italian government after a cruise liner crashed into the docks, injuring four people, earlier in June.

In response, Venice locals took the streets in protest, carrying signs saying: “Keep large boats out of the lagoon”.

“We will write to Unesco to ask for the city to be put on the blacklist,” Brugnaro told Radio 24, referring to the organisation’s list of endangered World Heritage Sites. “Venice is in danger and we feel in danger.”

While Italy’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli said that the government is “in favour” of stopping big cruise liners docking in the city centre following the incident, he stressed the need to balance tourism with environmentalism.

“We have been working with utmost resolution for months to resolve a problem that has been left to rot for too many years,” he told Italian newspaper La Stampa.

“It is necessary to find alternatives so that Venice does not lose cruise tourism.”

Back in 2017, measures that would remove cruise ships weighing over 55,000 tons from the city centre were approved, but these will not be implemented until 2021.

Since then, officials have been accused of dragging their feet over the issue.

Toninelli has already rejected a plan to close off the Grand Canal to large ships that was approved by the country’s previous administration.

Brugnaro was scathing of Toninelli’s suggestion that he could put the various options, including building a new cruise terminal at Lido San Nicolò or Chioggia, to a referendum on his party’s website.

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“He has an arrogance that I have not seen in my life,” Brugnaro said. “We do not so much contest that the minister has a different idea to ours, and if he told us that would be nice, but in the meantime he is making [other] proposals to move the ships from St Mark’s Square.”

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