Venice tourist crackdown: Unesco begged to ‘blacklist’ city as locals protest cruise ships

Venice tourist crackdown: Unesco begged to ‘blacklist’ city as locals protest cruise ships

Venice locals have had enough of huge cruise ships using the busy canals and docking close to the city centre. The controversy around large vessels in the city in Italy has been going on for a year. However, the situation this month came to a head after cruise ship MSC Opera lost control and crashed into a tourist river boat in Venice, injuring five people. The ongoing battle has seen Mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro ask Unesco to place the Italian city on a world heritage blacklist.

He has criticised Italy’s transport minister Danilo Toninelli for not approving a plan to divert cruise ships from the busy Giudecca canal.

“We will write to Unesco to ask for the city to be put on the blacklist,” Brugnaro told Italian news station Radio 24. “Venice is in danger and we feel in danger.”

He added that Toninelli “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.”

The transport minister promised to deliver a plan to prevent large cruise ships entering the central canals in Venice by the end of June but he has yet to do so.

If Venice were placed on Unesco’s blacklist entry into the city would be significantly restricted.

Brugnaro wants emergency solutions to “keep the ships away from St. Mark’s Square.”

The Unesco blacklist is reserved for sights under significant danger. There are 54 currently, most of which are in Africa and the Middle East.

According to Unesco: “The States Parties to the Convention should inform the Committee as soon as possible about threats to their sites.

“On the other hand, private individuals, non-governmental organisations, or other groups may also draw the Committee’s attention to existing threats.

“If the alert is justified and the problem serious enough, the Committee may consider including the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.”

The cruise ship crash took place on 2 June. The MSC Opera cruise liner was approaching a terminal on the Giudecca canal when it hit the dock after a technical problem at 8.30am. 

The ship, which had 2,679 passengers on board, was reportedly unable to stop its momentum.

It then ploughed into the river boat, which had 110 people on board, before hitting the thoroughfare that leads Saint Mark’s Square in the northeastern Italian city.

Following the incident, Venice locals protested in the streets brandishing signs saying “Keep large boats out of the lagoon.”

Measures to remove cruise ships weighing over 96,000 tons from the city centre were approved in 2017 but they won’t be implemented until 2021. has contacted Unesco for comment on the Mayor of Venice’s request.

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