Amsterdam, one of Europe’s most visited places is bursting out of its seams; its small, heavily trafficked and not ready to receive the huge amounts of travellers that it did in 2017; more than 17.000.000! Is the fear of Amsterdam becoming the “new Venice”, justified?
From a fully personal perspective; Amsterdam is quickly evolving in the new Venice. Symptoms:
- Seasons run from March till November
- Housing prices skyrocket due to Airbnb investors
- Infrastructure can’t cope with the pressure
- Hotels have high occupancy and expensive prices per night
And yes, when biking around I get annoyed by tourists every 2 minutes. The stress and annoyance that tourism has been having on my daily mood has been increasing since I started living in Amsterdam in 2010, becoming more and more every season.
“Becoming theme parks”
Just like Barcelona, Amsterdam is overrun with visitors in the past years. According to the NTBC (Amsterdam Marketing), this figure has doubled in the last six years. Seasons now don’t run from July till August but start in March and last until the end of November.
In Dutch, the transformation from the city into a theme park is called “verpretparkisering“. The city and its facilities are overrun by travellers to celebrate stag parties, drugs tourism that explores the possibilities of “hashiesj” and feels that Amsterdam is “their playground” to do whatever they want. Including peeing, littering, being loud, noisy and obnoxious.
The right mix
An argument heard often is “that people that don’t like the negative sides of the tourism in a city should then move out and live somewhere else”. In all honesty; this is unheard of. In a city like Amsterdam (or Barcelona), the importance to find the right mix between working, tourism and living is of an utmost importance.
The first problem is a city where only people work but no one lives anymore; certain districts of Frankfurt, Milan and Londen really have developed in a negative sense towards these places. Venice is the example of a city where no one lives anymore but which is lovely to visit. Also not the right thing! How about Sheffield; a good example of the third one; living. It’s pleasant to live there but there is nothing to do; also a bad example!
Amsterdam is not the only city that struggles with these problems; Bruges has introduced a “visitor tax” that will be lifted if you speak the local dialect. In Milan, its forbidden to use your selfie stick and in Venice, no new hotel permits are given. Other cities such as Dubrovnik have a maximum visitor count of 8.000 (monitored by cameras, enforced by local police) and also Cinque Terre in Italy only allows a maximum of 1.500.000 visitors per year (enforced by requiring tickets to enter the area).
My favourite solution is used in Florence where the stairs of churches are made wet with water during the day; it’s not so relaxed to pose for that picture if you bum is wet.
All the above cities have found some ways to restrict travel to their places but in the end; shouldn’t we try to focus on diverting traffic to other destinations?
Yes, I understand Amsterdam is interesting, but why not also spend 2 days travelling through the Netherlands? Den Haag? Friesland (Capital Culture of Europe in 2018) or any other place?
Unless other places won’t develop and become global icons, Amsterdam and its counterparts such as Barcelona, Venice (Already wasted) and others will keep suffering from this problem.
- Impact of the increasing tourism on safety and liveability in Amsterdam – Police Amsterdam – March 2016. http://static.at5.nl/upload/rapport.pdf
- Growing resistance against mass tourism in big cities in Europe – Joop – august 2017. https://joop.bnnvara.nl/nieuws/groeiend-verzet-massatoerisme-grote-steden-europa
- The city of Amsterdam is going to crap. How do we turn the tide? – Trouw. march 2018. https://www.trouw.nl/cultuur/de-stad-amsterdam-gaat-naar-de-gallemiezen-hoe-keer-je-het-tij-~a334344c/
- Tourism in perspective. NBTC Holland Marketing. March 2017 https://nbtc.nl/web/file?uuid=7dfa2ac6-1c18-465a-a966-cb70239f5ebe&owner=388ad020-d235-4624-86a4-d899f855a216&contentid=55862