Tourism

Amsterdam takes on tourists, bans new hotels & stores

Amsterdam is on a mission to curb tourism and prevent its centuries-old historic centre from being “loved to death”, according to new reports.

In the wake of an overtourism shake-up around the whole world, Amsterdam is joining the likes of Croatia and Barcelona, in trying to maintain its city’s appeal and keep it alive in the face of tourism influxes.

According to a recent ABC report, Amsterdam Marketing’s Geerte Udo said, “We are an open and tolerant city and we want to stay that [way] but we need people who are going to add something to the city and not just use the city”.

The report stated that Amsterdam has 850,000 residents, and last year saw around 18 million visitors flock to its streets, in particular the popular red light district, canal tours, and marijuana coffee shops.

Per the ABC report, Amsterdam’s council has put a moratorium on new hotels in the city centre, in addition to coming down hard on Airbnb rental properties.

It’s also banned any new shops from opening with the sole purpose of targeting tourists, such as souvenir shops, while tourists are being encouraged to explore areas outside of the busy historic area.

Per ABC, Amsterdam Marketing is using technology embedded in travel cards to see where tourists are going at what time.

“Most tourists go to the Van Gogh Museum in the morning and do a canal boat tour in the afternoon,” Udo told the publication.

“We try to get them to switch it around and we trialled live streaming of the queues outside these places to get them to delay their visit.”

Other tourist operators like Dennis Gerrits from Love My City Tours have started changing their own plans.

The ABC reports that Gerrits now takes his small walking tour groups into neighbourhoods that previously were not considered interesting areas, to try and get people out of the city centre.

“I trialled it during the summer and I still talk about the history and the people loved it,” he said.

It comes in the wake of several industry leaders criticising the overtourism of precious destinations around the world.

Intrepid Travel co-founder and executive chair, Darrell Wade, told Travel Weekly he thinks the issue is now at “critical” status.

“IF WE DON’T GET IT RIGHT IT STARTS TO KILL THE GOLDEN EGG.  IF TRAVELLERS ARE ONLY EVER SEEING OVER-SOLD DESTINATIONS WITH POOR EXPERIENCES AND JADED LOCALS, THEN THEY WILL STOP TRAVELLING,” HE SAID.

“Also, if local communities can’t afford housing in their own towns and  get disgruntled by the volume of tourism and the negatives that can entail, then our industry has a major problem from both the supply side and the demand side.

Related: What overtourism means for the industry.

Around the world, the topic continues to cause controversy and concern for many, with US travel trade publication, Skift, also drafting five potential solutions to the crisis.

Back in Amsterdam, and it seems like the variations between “low” and “high” seasons no longer exist, with one resident, local teacher Bert Nap, asserting, “I live here. You’re the guests. So let me live here and be the guest. And there will be no problem.”

“The real problem began when the shops started to change,” he explained to the ABC. 

“Then the residents’ economy turned into a tourist economy. All our shops are gone. The bakery, the fishmongers, everyone moved away.”

Nap added that tourists are becoming more disruptive to the local way of living, and cause noise issues and drunken brawls.

“They start drinking and about 10 in the evening things start being loud. At 1:00am things turn nasty,” Nap told the ABC.

“At 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock there are people screaming, throwing up drunk.

“The way people think they can act here is not how they act at home. They use Amsterdam as their playground.”

 

 

 

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