Venice will not be placed on UNESCO's list of heritage site in danger

Photo: AP In this June 5, 2021 file photo, "No Big Ships" activists stage a protest as the MSC Orchestra cruise ship leaves Venice, Italy.

Venice and its lagoon environment avoided placement on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites in danger on Thursday following Italy’s ban on massive cruise ships traveling through the city’s historic center, AP reported. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, meeting in China, instead has asked Italy to submit by December 2022 an update on efforts to protect Venice from excessive tourism, population decline and other issues that will be considered at a meeting in 2023. Preservation groups immediately criticized the decision.

The Italian government moved this month to avoid the danger designation, pledging to reroute massive cruise ships starting Aug. 1 from the city’s historic center to an industrial port still within the Venice lagoon. The ships’ passage through St. Mark’s Basin and the Giudecca Canal, which resumed recently after a long pandemic pause, was among the reasons UNESCO had cited for listing Venice’s status as at risk.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini welcomed UNESCO’s decision and credited the government’s recent move to ban ships over 25,000 tons from Venice waterways facing St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doges Palace.

“Now, the global attention on Venice must remain high, and it is everyone’s duty to work for the protection of the lagoon and identify a sustainable development path for this unique reality,” Franceschini said in a statement.

But non-governmental groups acting as observers to the process said the cruise ship ban only addressed one of many issues threatening Venice, which include over-tourism, the management of cultural and natural resources, and controlling urban development.The groups also said the temporary decision to moor cruise ships in the industrial port of Marghera still endangers the lagoon and that no long-term plans have been made yet to manage ships and tourism in the city.

Mass tourism to Venice peaked at some 25 million individual visitors in 2019, while the city of just over 50,000 residents loses about 1,000 Venetians each year.

 

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