Tensions flare in Venice as protesters block cruise ships

VENICE – Hundreds of demonstrators in Venice are protesting against the arrival of huge cruise ships in to the beautiful, historic Italian city, with tensions between locals and tourists intensifying on Sunday.

Flare-waving protesters with signs that read ‘no big ships’ used small boats to prevent cruise ships from passing through the lagoon on Sunday.

During peak season an estimated 30,000 cruise ship passengers descend on Venice every day, which locals claim are ruining their city, both environmentally and culturally. Around 22 million tourists arrive in Venice each year.

Tourism companies on the other hand, suggest the revenue they bring to the city supports local jobs and tax receipts.

This is not the first time organized protests are taking place. In 2013, locals went for a swim in the Giudecca Canal to disrupt vessels, while earlier this year locals took to the streets with shopping trolleys and wheelchairs.

The number of visitors each day in Venice, now at 60,000, exceeds the number of Venetians that live in the city, which has dwindled significantly over the decades.

In 2013, legislation was brought in banning the largest ships of more than 96,000 tonnes from crossing the Giudecca canal and the number of smaller ships was limited to five per day. However, that legislation was overturned at the end of 2015.

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