Protesters Say "No Big Ships" in Venice
Protesters took to small boats in Venice last Sunday evening (September 25) to demonstrate against huge cruise ships being allowed to pass through the Italian city's canals.
Sounding horns and lighting colored flares, the protesters waved banners which read "No Big Ships" as a Thomson Celebration cruise ship sailed down the central Giudecca canal to the international cruise ship terminal.
Protests by Venice residents, and environmental groups such as the Comitato NO Grandi, Navi concerned about the damage caused by increasing cruise ship traffic to the fragile city, one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, have been on the rise in recent years.
Over 60,000 people visit Venice each day, with less than half staying the night. “At least the tourists in the hotels are easier to manage, and bring richness to the city,” says Marco Caberlotto, a member of campaign group Generation 90. “Most people just want to take a selfie in St Mark’s Square before they go back to their ships.”
But local authorities and cruise shipowners say the passage of these huge vessels provides the local area with thousands of jobs.
In 2013, legislation was brought in banning the largest ships of more than 96,000 tons from crossing the Giudecca canal. The number of smaller ships using the canal was limited to five a day.
However, that legislation was overturned at the end of 2015.
At over 33,000 tons, the Thomson Celebration cruise ship is one of the smaller liners to pass down the canal on a daily basis. Cruise Lines International Association says it is urging the Venetian authorities to find a solution, saying that it already has a self-imposed ban on the biggest ships.
In July, UNESCO’s world heritage site committee voted to postpone a decision on whether or not to put Venice on its list of endangered sites. The decision followed a damning 2015 report into the effects of overcrowding and pollution on Venice’s foundations and ecology.