A cruise ship sailing the Giudecca Canal in Venice

Venice has taken a huge step toward banning large cruise ships from entering the crowded grand canal through its historic city center just months after a cruise liner smashed into a riverboat and dock and a week after city officials asked other European cruise destinations to join in its effort to curb cruise ship visits.

The Italian government announced that it will begin to gradually reroute the ships away from the city center starting next month.

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By next year, at least one-third of the ships visiting Venice are expected to call at ports closer to the Italian mainland but still inside the lagoon, including the Fusina and Lombardia terminals.

Italy’s minister of transport Danilo Toninelli said the ultimate goal was “to avoid witnessing more invasions of the Giudecca by these floating palaces, with the scandals and risks that they bring,” via the Financial Times.

“Starting now, we will decrease the number of liners passing by Giudecca and San Marco, particularly the bigger ones,” he added during a transport committee hearing. “The aim is to reroute about one-third of the cruise ships already booked on Venice towards new berths by 2020. We’ve been talking about big ships for 15 years and nothing has been done. These floating palaces will start to go elsewhere.”

Officials plan to consult the public before determining a new location for cruise ships to dock in the long-term future.

“Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) cruise lines have been actively engaged in discussions for a considerable time about using the Vittoria Emanuele Canal as the preferred alternative solution,” said Andy Harmer, CLIA’s U.K. and Ireland director, in a statement. “We have been cooperative in simulations and studies that supported the Comitatone recommendation. CLIA urges all parties in Venice to reach a conclusion to start the preparation work to prepare the Vittoria Emanuele Canal so we can begin to reroute the larger ships.”

“The cruise industry has worked diligently with the Mayor of Venice, the Veneto Region, the Port Authority and many others to find viable solutions to allow larger cruise ships to access the Marittima berths without transiting the Giudecca Canal and we are in agreement with the solution developed by Comitatone in 2017 to utilize the Vittorio Emanuele Canal as the best and most prudent means to move larger cruise ships away from the Giudecca,” he added. “CLIA cruise line members welcome and will support the urgent implementation of this solution.”

Venice has been struggling with overtourism for several years now with as many as 30 million visitors passing through each year.

“The growing size of vessels, their environmental impacts on the areas surrounding the ports and the ‘burden’ that the increasing number of tourists…are creating a situation of conflict,” Pino Musolino, chairman of the northern Adriatic Sea port authority, wrote in a recent letter to eight fellow port authorities.

Desperate officials have even called on UNESCO to add Venice to the World Heritage site blacklist of endangered destinations.