The Port of Venice has called on European ports to develop a new form of sustainable cruising and steer the future cruise market on the continent.
Pino Musolino, President of the North Adriatic Sea Port Authority, recently sent a letter to ports in Malaga, Barcelona, Marseille, Zeebrugge, Dubrovnik, Hamburg, Amsterdam and the Balearic Islands to gather together in order to discuss the economic and environmental impact of the cruise industry in Europe.
In addition, representatives the European ports have been invited to come to Venice to draw up guidelines for a new sustainable approach to maritime tourism.
“I have written to all European cities that have a similar experience of cruise ship tourism as Venice and who have to balance economic development with environmental sustainability, boosting employment levels while establishing a healthy relationship with the area,” Musolino said.
Although the cruise sector is an important source of income for these historic cities, the ever-increasing size of cruise vessels and their environmental impact are creating “a situation of conflict” that could become unmanageable in the very near future.
Musolino also referred to the recent incidents in Venice, saying that they demonstrated that the risk to create “real and unrecoverable damage” is always present and cannot be avoided completely.
Two months ago, MSC Opera, a cruise ship operated by MSC Cruises, crashed into a dock in Venice, hitting a tourist boat. The incident occurred at San Basilio Pier in the Giudecca Canal on June 2. Following the incident, conservationists and environmentalists called on the Italian government to ban cruise vessels in this historic city.
According to Musolino, the industry model that has existed in the past two decades is not sustainable anymore. There is a risk that local or national authorities would limit or shut down ports and their activities in the future.
“I believe that it would be useful to combine our strengths and ideas to establish guidelines for the European cruise industry of the future, and also to convey to shipyards the need to build ships that are compatible with our infrastructure and the environment, finally creating ‘European class cruises’,” he added.
“We plan to organise a seminar-meeting in Venice shortly to discuss possible organisational, technological and operational solutions in an open and frank manner in order to preserve such an important industry for our economies, and at the same time to protect the fragility of our historic cities and their natural environment.”