Venice bans recreational boats from Grand Canal

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The Floating City restricts the use of kayaks, paddleboards, canoes, and paddle boats on its main channels

Paddling through the famous city of Venice will now be significantly harder as the authorities have decided to ban the use of recreational boats on its main channels.

From today, 1 August, no recreational vessels, including kayaks, paddleboards, canoes, and paddle boats, will be allowed on the waterway that includes the Grand Canal, the Cannaregio Canal, and other routes used by Venice’s waterborne public transport.

  Venice bans recreational boats from Grand Canal, including kayaks and canoes — Anna Nahabed / ShutterstockVenice bans recreational boats from Grand Canal, including kayaks and canoes – Anna Nahabed / Shutterstock

The new rule extends measures already in place that restricted the use of recreational vessels only during the peak hours, namely between 8 am to 3 pm on weekdays and 8 am to 1 pm on Saturdays.   

Only boats owned by residents and companies that provide services to tourists will be exempt from the measure, which means that the iconic gondolas won’t cease to emphasise the romance of the spot. However, even residents must follow rules that are exclusive to them.

While kayaking or canoeing in the channels will still be possible through licenced operators, the measures will strongly affect their operations.

According to Lucia Scudellaro, a coordinator of Kayak Venice, a local rental firm, the fact that they can operate tours only after 3 pm will “cut of the amount of tours we are able to give all summer in half”.

As many other places around the world, Venice has been struggling with overtourism. The influx of visitors has led to temporary restrictions placed on access into major sites like Piazzale Roma or Rialto in April.

Recently, similar measures have taken place in India, where the authorities have restricted the number of domestic visitors to Taj Mahal. Easter Island has limited the time tourists can spend on its soil from 90 to 30 days and tropical places such as Maya Bay beach in Thailand as well as the island of Boracay in the Philippines have been closed to tourists temporarily.