June 16, 2019
Latest News

Cruise ships in Venice make $450 million a year but still have a problem

By Laura Serrano-Conde

Rome, Jun 8 (efe-epa).- The cruise ship industry in Venice makes more than 400 million euros ($450 million) a year for Italy, a very profitable business but one that is also highly controversial, since residents of this jewel of the Mediterranean have spent years demanding that the government banish these gigantic vessels that pollute and disfigure the landscape.

The dispute over these enormous maritime skyscrapers in Venice is nothing new, but became more heated over the past few days after a 65,000-ton cruise ship of the MSC company collided with a tourist boat in the Giudecca Canal, leaving four people slightly injured.

For almost 20 years, Venice has been looking for a solution that will be good for the industry, the economy, tourism, employment and the environment, and the current Italian government and the Five Star Movement (M5S) are working on it.

"The goal is to protect the environment, tourism and jobs in Venice, and I think we've found the solution," Italy's minister of transport and infrastructure and member of the M5S, Danilo Toninelli, told EFE.

THE CRUISE SHIP INDUSTRY REPRESENTS 3 PERCENT OF VENETIAN GDP

Venice is the second largest port in Italy after Civitavecchia.

The cruise ship industry takes in some 410 million euros ($464.9 million) annually and has more than 4,000 permanent employees, according to a study done by the Risposte Turismo company for the Italian division of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

This analysis found that the cruise line industry represents close to 3 percent of Venetian GDP.

The director of CLIA in Italy, Francesco Galietti, noted in a statement to EFE that the importance of Venice lies in it being a base port where so many tourist trips begin and end.

Most tourists spend one day in Venice before or after the cruise, and spend money here...their per capita outlay is calculated at some 180 euros ($204)," he said, adding that if cruise ships were no longer allowed here, "many trips to the Adriatic would be canceled."

He also noted that cruise ships do not pollute very much at all because, according to the ARPAV environmental agency in the Veneto region, they only generate 8 percent of total emissions during the summer and 2 percent in winter.

SOLUTION PROPOSED BY ASSOCIATIONS AGAINST CRUISE SHIPS

Venetian organizations and associations, such as the No Grandi Navi (No Big Ships), have been protesting for years to keep these gigantic vessels from entering Venetian canals because, they say, they contaminate the environment and destroy the beauty of this extraordinary city.

This Saturday they organized a demonstration to ask the Italian government for an urgent, lasting solution, an event that attracted hundreds of people carrying banners and posters with such slogans as "Out with cruise ships."

Activist Stefano Micheletti complained that these vessels dirty the air "with their carbon emissions and their motors always running."

"We want these ships to anchor outside the lagoon," he said.

Cruise ships of less than 96,000 tons come to Venice from the eastern Mediterranean, enter the Venetian Lagoon through the port of the Lido and sail through the Giudecca Canal to the Maritime Station, located several kilometers (miles) west of the seaport.

These associations ask the Italian government and local authorities to establish a port outside the lagoon, for which they suggest the area of San Niccolo on the Lido, so tourists can then continue on to Venice by ferry.

This concept does not convince local authorities nor the cruise lines, which suggest that the giant ships continue docking at the Maritime Station of Venice, though by way of an alternative route: along the Vittorio Emmanuele III Canal, without passing through the historic center.

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