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Cruise ships will be diverted away from Venice, says Italian government

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By Euronews with AFP
Government ministers said the decision would protect Venice's "cultural and historical heritage".
Government ministers said the decision would protect Venice's "cultural and historical heritage".   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File
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Cruise ships will no longer be allowed to sail near the centre of Venice, Italy's government has announced.

Large passenger boats must now dock at the city's mainland industrial port at Marghera, away from the historic centre.

Last year, an Interministerial Committee had decided that passenger ships could sail through Venice to dock outside the lagoon.

But the temporary decision prevents cruise ships from even approaching the iconic St. Mark's Square.

The move was announced in a joint statement by Italy's ministries of Environment, Culture, Tourism, and Infrastructure after a video conference on Thursday.

Ministers said the decision was made to "protect a historical and cultural heritage not only of Italy but of the whole world".

The four ministers have also called for ideas to create a new external terminal for ships and "solve the problem of the transit of large ships in Venice in a structural and definitive manner".

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, cruise ships brought millions of tourists into Venice, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, every year.

In 2019, the cruise ship MSC Opera collided with a tourist boat on the Giudecca Canal, one of Venice's main waterways, reigniting debate on whether large vessels should be allowed in Venice’s canals.

The Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro has previously campaigned for large boats to avoid passing St. Mark's Square by sailing through Canale dei Petroli.