Blacklisting Venice

By | Category: Travel destinations

In a unusual turn of events, the Mayor of Venice will ask UNESCO to place the city on its World Heritage Site blacklist.

Cruise ships dwarf the landscape in Venice.

What does this mean and why has the mayor taken such a step?

Readers will remember that Venice has complained about the impact of cruise ships on the city, the effect it has on the waterways and the possible damage to the structure of buildings.

A week or so ago, people around the world will have watched a cruise ship slam into the Giudecca when it lost control of its steering. That re-ignited the demand for something to be done. The mayor has decided that the Italian government has been dragging its feet on finding a way to deal with cruise ships so it has decided to take this step.

Under UNESCO rules, when a world heritage site is placed on the blacklist which, incidentally, already contains 54 sites around the world. Under the rules of the blacklisting, UNESCO deems that “major operations are necessary” and that the list “shall contain an estimate of the cost of such operations.” It will consult with the Italian government and only with the consent of the Italian government can a site appear on the blacklist.

Therefore the move by the mayor seems designed more to embarrass the government and to prompt it into action.

Will it respond?

That the mayor has yet to write the letter could indicate it is a political ploy to try and speed matters up. The problem of cruise ships so close to buildings has been a problem for decades and, although larger ships are now banned, the existing ships are of sufficient size to still damage the city and its environs. But the government has done little and probably would have continued to do little unless prodded. The mayors prodding may jump start the decision to move ships away from Venice to an area where less damage is done.

But the government seems more intent on internal squabbles rather than decision-making so don’t bet your pension on a quick decision. If UNESCO intervenes it doesn’t tend to move quickly either.   

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