by Giada Zampano, The Telegraph, June 20, 2019
The mayor of Venice has asked Unesco to include city on its world heritage site blacklist after Italy’s transport minister failed to deliver a plan to avoid giant cruise ships entering central canals.
The years-long controversy on big cruise ships being allowed to use busy canals and dock close to the city center has been reignited after a huge ship crashed into a tourist boat in the busy Giudecca canal in early June.
“We will write to Unesco to ask for the city to be put on the blacklist,” Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro told Italy’s Radio 24 on Thursday. “Venice is in danger and we feel in danger.”
Mr Brugnaro added that the city doesn’t feel represented anymore by Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, who “has an arrogance I’ve never seen in my life and pretends of having understood in half a day what I haven’t understood in 57 years.”
After June’s crash, Mr Toninelli had promised to unveil a new plan to avoid the giant ships entering the central canals by the end of June. But he has not presented the plan yet to local authorities.
The accident, in which four people were injured, reignited debate over the damages caused by gigantic ship cruises to Venice’s historic infrastructure and their huge impact on the fragile lagoon’s environment.
Cruise ships that are currently allowed to pass within a few hundred yards of St Mark’s Square and Venice’s historic centre on their way to the city’s international passenger terminal. A Unesco blacklist would significantly restrict entry into the city and is reserved for sights under significant danger.
The majority of blacklisted sights are in the Middle East and Africa. Venice mayor on Thursday called for emergency solutions to “keep the ships away from St. Mark’s Square.”
A 2017 plan that would force the cruise ships weighing more than 96,000 tons to take a less central route is still waiting for the national government’s final approval.
Work on the new route — which would require the dredging of canals and the construction of a new port – could take up to four years.
Unesco originally gave Italian authorities until 2017 to undertake measures to protect Venice’s monuments and preserve its environment, or risk the city being put on its endangered world heritage list. That deadline was then extended by a year, and again until 2021.