Cruises to Venice, Italy are set to be rerouted to other ports after a cruise crashed into a dock and a small riverboat in June, prompting some reports of a total “ban.”
The Italian government said it would gradually divert ships from a route that takes them near the city’s center, the Financial Times reported. A third of cruise ships will be rerouted by next year.
Cruise ships bring more than 1.5 million people to Venice each year, according to the report. The ships have long irked some Venice residents, who complain about large crowds and damage to the city’s fragile structure and the environment in the nearby lagoon.
Anti-cruise demonstrators protested the ships this summer after the 65,500-ton MSC Opera crashed into another boat and a quay alongside the Giudecca Canal. Five people were injured.
Another cruise ship narrowly missed hitting a waterfront restaurant during the same month, the Financial Times reported.
Danilo Toninelli, Italy’s transportation minister, told the newspaper that he’s looking for temporary ports “to avoid witnessing more invasions of the Giudecca by these floating palaces, with the scandals and risks that they bring.”
Officials haven’t yet decided where to send the unwanted ships, but several terminals are being considered. Toninelli favors a site at the mouth of the lagoon or a ferry terminal on the Adriatic side, while the mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, wants to send the ships to a port across the causeway on the mainland, according to the report.
Sending away the cruise ships will only go so far in shrinking the crowds of visitors. Estimates place the number of tourists who visit Venice each year between 20 million and 30 million.
Officials have said they’ll begin enforcing a tourism tax of a few euros for visitors.