Before coronavirus, there was a crisis over mass tourism in Amsterdam, its residents feeling alienated by the hoardes of rowdy visitors, rubbish-strewn plazas and parks, noise and public disorder in the historical city center.
As a result of the pandemic, the beautiful, 500-year-old Dutch city went from an average of approximately 55,000 visitors a day to almost zero.
Now that as most of the rest of Europe, the Netherlands reopens from months of restrictions, many in Amsterdam want to make sure that the city says “good riddance to mass tourism” and reverts to the numbers of visitors as they were around 2014, before the situation spun out of control from low-fare flights, Airbnb and budget tours.
Coffee Shops, Red-Light District
“The scantily-clad sex workers in brothel windows in small alleys like Stoofsteeg in the red-light district were gone, as were the hordes of tourists who come there to gawk at them; coffee shops on historic plazas like Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein didn’t get the visitors who descend upon the city by the thousands for the cannabis they sell,” reports Bloomberg.
This is not the first time in recent years that Amsterdam has tried to control the numbers and quality of its visitors and develop sustainable tourism that creates sustained employment while minimizing the damage caused by the industry.
Nevertheless, as The Guardian explains, “most hotel groups, tour operators and national tourism authorities – whatever their stated commitment to sustainable tourism – had continue to prioritize the economies of scale that inevitably lead to more tourists paying less money and heaping more pressure on those same assets.”
The 2020 forecast for international travel generally — prior to the pandemic — was an increase between 3% and 4%.
More Taxes For Tourists
Although since last year Amsterdam has one of the highest tourist taxes in Europe at €3 per person per night — added to the tax of 7% of the price of a room and Airbnb increasing its rates by 10% per night while cruise passengers were charged €8 per person — the over-tourism had not weakened the numbers in any radical way.
With just 870,000 residents, Amsterdam attracts more than 19 million overnight visitors a year, according to official statistics. But some consider that number to be shy of reality due to the fact that private holiday rentals are not always officially registered.
A post-pandemic petition that seeks to limit the number of visitors, ban establishment of new hotels and impose an increase in tourist taxes has gathered the 27,000 signatures required to trigger a city council referendum on the issue of the future of tourism in the Dutch capital.
The main goal of the citizens’ demand is to force measures that effectively will limit the number of visitors to 12 million overnight per year, considered “the manageable levels of 2014.”
Published: June 18, 2020
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