Italy welcomes UNESCO decision not to blacklist Venice

Venice avoids UNESCO list of heritage sites in danger.

Italian culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano on Thursday hailed the decision by UNESCO not to declare Venice an endangered world heritage site as “a victory for all of Italy”.

The United Nations’ cultural body last month warned that Venice was at risk of “irreversible damage” from climate change and mass tourism, blaming Italian authorities for a “lack of strategic vision” and not doing enough to protect the canal city.

However at a meeting in Riyadh UNESCO member states disregarded warnings by experts that Venice was in peril, lauding Venice’s recent efforts to ease pressure on the fragile lagoon city.

Delegates praised the city council’s plan to trial a €5 entry fee system for day-trippers on 30 key holiday dates next spring and summer as part of efforts to encourage day-trippers to choose off-peak days for their visit.

In a statement, Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro welcomed the decision as recognition of how authorities are attempting to protect the city, slamming the proposal to include it on the danger list as “very political and not very technical.”

“Common sense prevails”, Minister Sangiuliano wrote on social media, adding that the decision was a “defeat for those who take sides against their homeland in order to make political controversy.”

Venice, which has been a World Heritage Site since 1987, avoided being added to the UNESCO blacklist in 2021 after Italy adopted several measures, notably the banning of large cruise ships.

According to the latest data for September, for the first time there are more beds for tourists in Venice than there are beds for residents: 49,693 to 49,304.