VENICE TOWARDS A NEW MODEL OF CRUISE TOURISM
Venice and its port continue their journey towards the adoption of a cruise model than is more sustainable both for the urban fabric of the historic city and for the lagoon ecosystem. The steadfast progress is greatly facilitated by the Special Commissioner appointed in August 2021: with the precious collaboration of the entire port community and city institutions, the objectives set by the Italian government under Law Decree DL 103/21 are being met.
During this year and a half of work, several temporary moorings have been identified, adapted and put into operation in the Porto Marghera area (Liguria and Lombardy docks), the dual use of the Fusina ro-ro terminal has been encouraged and Chioggia was successfully tested as a port of call for the luxury cruise segment. A study to assess the nautical accessibility of the Malamocco-Marghera canal was completed and the feasibility study for equipping two moorings in the North Canal and the new passenger station has begun.
Feedback from the industry is excellent: recognizing the efforts made, it has responded with great flexibility to the new scenario, scheduling 243 calls for 2023 that will bring 550 thousand cruise passengers to the lagoon, 90% of which will use Venice as home port. Thanks to bookings made by 24 cruise companies this year (compared to 21 last year), an average annual increase of +42% is expected in 2023 in the number of mooring, piloting and towing services reserved for cruises.
In 2023 the Commissioner office will plan and approve a number of measures, including the maintenance of the canals, the design of moorings in the North Canal and the new passenger station - and the final plan of the latter; interventions for improving nautical accessibility will also be planned. By the end of the year, works to enhance the usability and safety of the Liguria and Lombardy docks will be completed and the first temporary moorings in the North Canal will be ready.
The Special Commissioner for Cruises and President of the North Adriatic Sea Port Authority, Fulvio Lino Di Blasio stated: "The cruise industry keeps choosing Venice and aims not only at a quantitative growth - with the goal of bringing 1 million tourists back to the Lagoon in 2027 – but also, and above all, at quality and sustainability. We are working on aspects concerning infrastructure and nautical accessibility, but we are also determined to adapt our approach to tap into the mega trends of post-pandemic tourism while ensuring full respect for Venice, its times, its people and its lagoon. Together with some entities, we are developing a new way to introduce Venice to tourists: in collaboration with the Venetian University System, we will launch a form of "early experience of the destination" with qualified storytellers who will board the ships before arrival at destination to make cruise passengers aware of Venice’s unique natural, cultural, architectural and landscape features they are about to experience. We are working with the airport system to improve synergies and connections between the airport and the docks and optimize tourist travel. On the environmental front, advanced technical studies – such as the Channeling project – will provide a scientific basis for the sustainable development of the entire Venetian port sector. Finally, in conjunction with the Municipality of Venice - and now also with that of Chioggia -, we are determined to renew and strengthen the Blue Flag protocol on the reduction of emissions in agreement with the cruise companies that call at the lagoon ports".
Fabrizio Spagna, President and CEO of Venezia Terminal Passeggeri S.p.A, stated: "We are about to start the 2023 season with 4 docks available on some specific days of the week thanks to an agreement made with the Marghera terminals which supplements our options at Marittima and San Basilio. Compared to 2022 we can count on 2 moorings in Fusina (instead of 1) - which were set up also thanks to the infrastructural works managed and supported by VTP- and on an additional mooring at the Tiv terminal (Lombardia quay) on Mondays. Provided the authorization process is successful, we will continue works to complete the equip the Fusina terminal with the aim of having two moorings for the home port in 2024. We keep working on a new model of cruise activity, compatible with the city and with freight traffic, which is not fully completed yet. Compared to 2022, the season that is about to begin will see a growth in the number of companies (+14%) , ships calling at our ports (+46%) and the doubling of expected passengers, confirming the home port percentage (86%). The latter is crucial for the growth of a sustainable form of cruise tourism capable of generating benefits for the territory and employment. The 'new' cruise model will no longer be driven by demand but by supply, aiming at sustainability and compatibility with the city and its tourist flows. It is up to us to design a cruise sector that meets such requirements. While that won’t bring back the numbers of 2019, it will have to safeguard the home port, come to terms with the new accessibility rules and take into account new economic and employment arrangements that must be sustainable for VTP and for all related industries ".
Rear admiral Piero Pellizzari, Maritime Director of the Veneto Region and Venice Harbour Master, stated: "The 2023 cruise programme can rely on a sound safety and security framework, which is constantly updated and results from the collaboration with the nautical engineering services and the Port Authority. We want to ensure the best procedures and solutions for ships docking at temporary moorings. Procedures are governed by a specific ordinance that applies to all port activities and supplements other measures already in place that concern operations under certain weather conditions, from fog to wind, and the procedures that ships mut follow when entering and exiting the lagoon in case the MoSE flood barriers are raised. Such regulation is supported by risk analysis and tests carried out over the last two years by the Danish Hydraulic Institute through simulation of manoeuvres for ships calling at Venice".
Andrea Tomaello, Deputy Mayor of Venice, stated: "This is an important opportunity to relaunch the cruise business in Venice, which aims to regain its position as the leading home port in the Mediterranean. Considering that we started from scratch in 2021, I am satisfied with the results of 2022 and those expected in the coming years: we aim to welcome quality tourists, who can spend several days in our city and allow many activities and related businesses to stay open. There is a key project here: it’ about raising tourists’ awareness of Venice’s special nature - with an eye to sustainability and the environment - by introducing them to the characteristics of the city on board ships, before they disembark. It’s a project in which we strongly believe, which will be carried out by a network of subjects".