The Italian Government is set to ban the entry of cruise ships weighing over 96,000t into the Venice lagoon from November 2014 and also limit the entry of smaller cruise vessels visiting the city from January 2014.
The move by the government comes after protests by Venice residents and environmentalists over the damage caused by increasing cruise ship traffic in the city.
The protests were also prompted by the crash of the Costa Concordia cruise ship in early 2012, which killed 32 people off the coast of Tuscany.
Following the protests, the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta met the transport and culture ministers, governor of the Veneto region and the mayor of Venice, and approved plans to limit or ban cruise ship traffic in parts of the Venice including the famous Saint Mark’s Square.
According to the government order, beginning January 2014, the trans-Adriatic ferries will also be banned from passing through the Giudecca Canal, which is the primary gateway for large ships through the medieval city.
Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni was quoted by Reuters as saying that the trend towards gigantic ships in the lagoon has finally been turned around.
"We’ve had enough of these mega cruise ships just metres away from San Marco; from now on there will be clear limits on the size of ships that can enter Venice," Orsoni added.
With the new directive, the government aims to reduce the volume of cruise ships weighing over 40,000t in Venetian waters by 20%.
The government also ordered cruise traffic to move through an alternate route such as the Contorta Sant’Angelo Canal.