Recently, Venice made headlines for taking many courageous initiatives to conserve its delicate ecosystem and gorgeous architecture. For example, it has banned cruise ships from its lagoon and built sea walls to keep away strong tides. On July 13, 2021, the Italian government declared that starting August 1, cruise ships would be banned from sailing through the city centre of the famous lagoon city of Venice. The ban came in the wake of a UNESCO warning in June of that year that the international organisation was contemplating putting Venice on the endangered heritage list if the Italian government did not issue a permanent ban on cruise ships entering the lagoon city.
Despite the steps taken, Venice is in the news once again. UNESCO has recommended that Venice and its lagoon be added to the list of World Heritage in Danger, citing Italy’s failure to protect the city from the effects of climate change and overtourism.
“The effects of the continuing deterioration due to human intervention, including continuing development, the impacts of climate change, and mass tourism threaten to cause irreversible changes to the outstanding universal value of the property,” UNESCO said.
The recommendation will now be considered for acceptance at a meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in Riyadh in September.
With this, Venice follows several cities around the world that are considering regulating tourist numbers in order to protect their heritage and environment. In November 2019, owing to overcrowding from a massive influx of tourists, the mayor of Dubrovnik proposed a ban on restaurants adding tables and chairs outside. As per reports, after the enforcement of the ban, even if a restaurant closes, a new one will not be able to take its place. However, this step did not come as a surprise. In 2018, UNESCO warned city officials to keep a check on the number of tourists entering Dubrovnik, especially on cruise ships. More recently, the mayor of Dubrovnik also announced a ban on wheeled suitcases due to the noise they produce in the streets of this historic city.
The World Heritage Committee made the World Heritage in Danger list to indicate heritage sites that require “major operations” because of “serious and specific dangers” under Article 11.4 of the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
The World Heritage Committee, which decides whether sites get the coveted World Heritage classification, will meet in Riyadh from September 10 to 25.