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Large cruise boats get marching orders from Venice Grand Canal

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The government of Italy has announced new regulations which will prohibit big holiday cruise boats from sailing up the Grand Canal in Venice. The ban will apply to vessels weighing over 100,000 tonnes and is being implemented to preserve the islands historic attractions.

Luigi Brugnaro is the mayor of Venice and he says the plan is to set up a new cruise port on the mainland at Marghera. He explained that it would likely take four years to equip the port to accommodate large cruise ships and ensure access channels were wide enough.

The mayor said once these measures were completed the ban would be applied. He finished off by saying the ban took into account the concerns of activists and UNESCO yet safeguarded Venices vital cruise industry and the jobs of all the people employed in it.

The Grand Canal follows a meandering course through the centre of Venice island. En route it passes legendary locations including Palazzo Fontana Rezzonico and the Doges Palace. Piers for St Mark's Square are close to the latter palace and, once the big ship ban is in force, will be reserved for gondolas, river taxis and other small craft.

Activists have long claimed the summer season influx of cruise ships and their passengers was damaging Venices architectural heritage. Residents say the sheer volume of tourists at this time of the year casts a shadow on the attractions. In early July, an estimated 2,000 Venetians took to the streets to protest against the negative effects of mass tourism.