For a long time, the city of Venice, Italy, has suffered from the combined problems of flooding and sinking. On Monday, heavy winds pushed tides over the city’s sea walls, flooding most areas.

The population of Venice also has been falling for years. At the same time, the number of visitors to the city continues to rise. Many Venetians are not happy about that. They do not want the city to become what some are calling a “Disneyland on water.” Their biggest objection is to the huge cruise ships that stop at Saint Mark's Square.

For a long time, Venetians have called the cruise ships “monsters.” They say the ships are ugly and that they block local sights. The ships also damage the bases of the city's historic buildings.

Last year, the interest group No Big Ships organized a vote on the cruise ships issue. 18,000 Venetians took part in the June vote. Almost 99 percent of them voted to bar cruise ships from the area.

Later that year, the Italian government announced it would ban huge ships from Saint Mark’s Square, Grand Canal and other historic areas. The order is to take effect over several years.

The cruise industry is protesting the plan. It says it will hurt Venice, and Italy’s, economy.

Cruise companies say they want to protect the places their ships visit. They say the business brings economic benefits to port cities.

Roberto Martinoli is the president of Cruise Lines International Association. He spoke to VOA News in Rome.

He said the cruise industry represents nearly three percent of Venice’s economy. He said cruise ships are responsible for less than 10 percent of Venice’s water traffic and less than five percent of visitors to the city.

The cruise industry has spent billions of dollars on environmental research and development projects, Martinoli added.

But, many in the city argue that the damage from cruise ships outweighs the economic benefit from tourist dollars.

At a demonstration earlier this year, Stefano Micheletti of the No Big Ships campaign shared opinions common to many Venetians.

Micheletti said large ships must stay out of the area to protect the ecosystem. He said they cause pollution that is ruining the historic city.

Exercise 1

Vocabulary

Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

tide (n.) /ˈtaɪd/ - the regular upward and downward movement of the level of the ocean that is caused by the pull of the Sun and the Moon on the Earth

  • a chart of the tides

cruise (n.) /ˈkruːz/ - a journey on a boat or ship to a number of places as a vacation

  • They went on a cruise for their honeymoon.

monster (n.) /ˈmɑːnstɚ/ - a strange or horrible imaginary creature

  • mythical monsters

benefit (n.) /ˈbɛnəˌfɪt/ - a good or helpful result or effect

  • the benefits of fresh air and sunshine

tourist (n.) /ˈturɪst/ - a person who travels to a place for pleasure

  • In the summer the town is filled with tourists.

 

Exercise 2

Questions

Answer these questions about the article.

  1. What are the old problems of city of Venice?
  2. Is the population of Venice dropping?
  3. Why Venetians do not like the big ships?
  4. What percent of Venice economy are the cruise ships?

 

Exercise 3

Debate

Please give your opinion on the following statement and give your reasons behind it.

  • Venetians should have the right to ban tourist ships in their waters

 

Exercise 4 

Discussion

Have a discussion on following questions.

  1. Would you like to visit Venice?
  2. Is there an another big city in Europe you would like to visit?
  3. Have you ever been on a cruise ship?
  4. Can tourism destroy a city?

 

Source

This lesson is based on a news article originally published by learningenglish.voanews.