Overtourism hits Amsterdam

From Travel Pulse

The overtourism backlash that’s been witnessed in such places as Venice and Barcelona has now reached Amsterdam.

Between 2006 and 2016, the number of overnight stays at hotels in the Dutch capital increased from more than eight million to 14 million, according to Associated Press.

The impact of such a dramatic spike in visitors is materializing on multiple levels.

Each weekend Amsterdam’s red-light district is packed with foreigners headed for the strip joints and bars. Cafes, where marijuana is permitted, are also overrun by visitors.

Local leaders have expressed frustration with such developments.

“If the only reason for you to visit Amsterdam is to get loaded or to get stoned out of your mind—look, we can’t hold you back from coming, but we don’t want you here,” City Alderman Udo Kock said, according to the Associated Press.

Amsterdam’s historic canal ring has also been transformed by the proliferating budget hotels and Airbnb rentals in the neighborhood. Once quiet residential streets have become busy paths for those headed from the budget hotels to downtown.

“It hurts the character of the city,” Kock told Associated Press. “There are really neighborhoods where you simply see that the people that used to live there don’t want to live there anymore.”

To be fair, tourists pump a significant amount of cash into the economy and create countless jobs. But finding the balance between serving visitors and maintaining quality of life for locals presents a challenge.

The city is now trying to create regulations that address this issue, but there’s no straightforward solution.

“There is no golden bullet,” Koch said. “It’s such a complicated problem that you have to use every policy measure that you can possibly find, big and small. Everything. And you have to be creative.”

Some of the changes being proposed or already enacted include:

—Halting construction of new hotels

Banning “beer bikes” (i.e. large, slow, pedal-powered bars)

—Shifting the cruise ship terminal out of the city center

—Outlawing tourist-only stores in the oldest part of the city

One of the most significant measures involves a deal with Airbnb, which has agreed to enforce a 60-day-per-year limit on Amsterdam properties and collect tourist tax for the city from renters, according to Associated Press.

Still, there are those who say the many measures don’t go far enough toward addressing the issue.

“No one (anywhere in the world) has come anywhere near solving this problem,” said Stephen Hodes, co-owner of leisure industry consultancy LAgroup and founder of Amsterdam in Progress, an independent think tank.

“The problem is much bigger than we’re able to handle at the moment.”



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