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Venice natives relieved as city avoids UNESCO heritage danger list

 VENICE:Residents of the Italian canal city of Venice breathed a deep sigh of relief when they learned that their city had avoided a spot on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) list of World Heritage sites in danger.

Meeting in Fuzhou, China, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee announced on Thursday that it would not put Venice on the list, which would have brought the city closer to losing its recognition as a World Heritage site.

The city's status was cast in doubt based on worries that the Italian government was doing too little to protect its substantial cultural, artistic and architectural riches.

The presence of large cruise ships in Venice Lagoon was a major cause for such worries because of the environmental impacts and potential damage they have already caused to the infrastructure of a city built on 118 separate islands.

Earlier this month, the Italian government said ships weighing more than 25,000 tons and measuring more than 180 meters (590 feet) would be banned from Venice's St. Mark's Basin, the Giudecca Canal and the surrounding areas starting Aug. 1.

In a statement issued after the UNESCO announcement, Italy's Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini said the decision to ban the large cruise ships was the main reason Venice avoided a spot on the "danger list," though he called for continued diligence in protecting the city.

"The global attention on Venice must remain high, and it is everyone's duty to work for the protection of the lagoon and to identify a path for sustainable development in this unique city," Franceschini said. "This is an ongoing process."

 
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