Venice avoids being placed on UNESCO’s heritage danger list

Venice has avoided being placed on UNESCO”s list of world heritage sites in danger.

Italy’s move earlier this month to ban large cruise ships from Venice’s lagoon is thought to have been a key factor in UNESCO’s decision.

But the city remains a concern for the UN body: it has asked Italy to provide an update by next December on how Venice is being protected from over-tourism.

Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini welcomed Thursday’s decision.

“Now, the global attention on Venice must remain high, and it is everyone’s duty to work for the protection of the lagoon and identify a sustainable development path for this unique reality,” he said in a statement.

But non-governmental groups acting as observers to the process said the cruise ship ban only addressed one of many issues threatening Venice, which include over-tourism, the management of cultural and natural resources, and controlling urban development.

The groups also said the temporary decision to moor cruise ships in the industrial port of Marghera still endangers the lagoon and that no long-term plans have been made yet to manage ships and tourism in the city.

“The persistent issues afflicting the precarious state of conservation of Venice and its lagoon has long been associated with a complex and ineffective governance framework,’’ Stephan Doempke, chairman of World Heritage Watch, told the UNESCO committee. “It lacks a long-term vision and a strategy involving the local community.”

Mass tourism to Venice peaked at some 25 million individual visitors in 2019, while the city of just over 50,000 residents loses about 1,000 Venetians each year.

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