Venice Bans Kayaks and Other Recreational Boats From the Grand Canal

Aug 7, 2018

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In a city characterized by its bustling waterways and canals, a serious change has just gone into effect. On August 1, the city of Venice outlawed canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and paddle boats, according to The Local. The ban extends across all major Venetian waterways, including the Grand Canal.

Anything inflatable has also been banned.

Restrictions on water traffic were introduced as far back as 2013, after a ferry crashed into a gondola, killing a tourist. The crash led to a feud between Italian water bus operators and gondoliers, and resulted in limitations on what times of day the canal could be used for recreation.

The original provision, however, only eliminated recreational boats at peak hours to prevent overcrowding on the canals. The new ban limits them altogether, with few exceptions. (Venetian residents, for example, have the freedom to use their recreational boats in the Grand Canal during certain hours. Additionally, visitors may boat on the Grand Canal if they do so with a licensed tour operator.)

Venice Kayak expressed frustrations regarding the ban of environmentally friendly canal-cruising alternatives, as opposed to motorboats. According to a statement from the tour operator, the danger in the canals stems from “too many, too large and too powerful motorboats, too often conducted in a ruthless and reckless way, putting others in danger needlessly.”

These restrictions are tethered to a larger problem plaguing the city: overtourism. Prior to the recreational boat ban, Venetian officials tried to manage tourists by limiting access to certain areas of the cityrestricting cruise ships weighing more than 55,000 tons on the Grand Canal and issuing fines to badly behaved tourists.

Fortunately, if you’ve always dreamt of kayaking on Venetian waterways, you aren’t completely out of luck, as there are more flexible laws for the city’s minor waterways. Here, the ban will only apply to certain times of day, such as 7:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays.

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