The Mayor of Venice has called on Unesco to place the city on its World Heritage Site blacklist after criticising Italy’s transport minister for failing to endorse plans to divert large cruise ships away from the city’s Giudecca canal.
Luigi Brugnaro’s call comes after five people were hurt when MSC Opera smashed into Uniworld’s River Countess while attempting to dock in the city earlier this month. MSC Cruises said the ship developed an engine fault causing the incident, reigniting the debate over cruise calls in Venice.
“We will write to Unesco to ask for the city to be put on the blacklist,” Brugnaro told Italy’s Radio 24. “Venice is in danger, and we feel in danger.”
Brugnaro’s frustration reportedly stems from transport minister Danilo Toninelli’s reluctance to adopt a plan agreed by Italy’s previous administration to close off the Giudecca canal to cruise ships, or discuss plans to build a new dedicated cruise terminal for the city.
Unesco has previously supported plans to divert cruise ships away from the city. In 2017, a government committee said cruise ships weighing 100,000 tonnes should no longer be able to enter the city via Venice’s Grand Canal. The plans, though, were never realised.
Venice has long faced a battle to mitigate and contain the threat of overtourism. Earlier this year, the authorities vowed to enforce fines to crack down on perceived poor behaviour by tourists such as lying down on benches, loitering on bridges or swimming in the canals.