Rijksmuseum director warns Amsterdam 'too dirty and crowded' from tourists

06 August 2014, by

Wim Pijbes, the director of the Rijksmuseum, has written an open letter to the Amsterdam city council warning that Amsterdam is becoming too "dirty and full" from tourists.

Tourist pressure

The letter, published in the newspaper NRC Next, states that in the not too distant future the city of Amsterdam will reach maximum capacity for tourism. The city will struggle to cope with the amount of tourists and day visitors it receives. Amsterdam’s Museumplein is already visited by five million people per year.

Pijbes points out that the strain on the city is already visible in the amount of litter, the irritations and the queues that can be seen in and around the centre. Beer bikes, stag or hen parties, and litter spread by birds from torn rubbish bags are some of the many annoyances mentioned.

Rijksmuseum reopening marks new phase

According to the director, the reopening of the Rijksmuseum in 2013 marked the start of a new era in Amsterdam’s history as a tourist destination.

The letter explains that this year the city is experiencing for the first time the full extent of what it means to be an attractive tourist destination, to both Dutch and international visitors.

A 'Delta Plan' for Amsterdam

Pijbes urges for a strategy to help the city cope with tourism in the future. The aim of this so-called "Amsterdam Tourist Delta Plan" would be to make the city lovable for visitors and liveable for locals.

Highlighted issues that require tackling include the polluting boat tours, the taxi system, insufficient bicycle parking, mobile street traders, abuses in prostitution and the "medieval" garbage collection system.

amsterdam tourists dirty crowded

The letter also calls for a plan of action to deal with illegal short stay accommodation in the city, which he describes as dangerous and inappropriately competing with hotels.

I amsterdam: wrong mentality

The director concluded his letter emphasising that Amsterdam is a fantastic city and icon of the Netherlands, however the charm of the old city has faded, and to maintain its appeal Amsterdam needs to be treated with more respect.

Pijbes summed up his point by asserting that the city’s tourism slogan "I Amsterdam" has degenerated into "first me, and then the city".

Other opinions are already surfacing on the issue, with some locals feeling that it’s ok for the city to be a little grubby, stating "we’re not Disneyworld".

Source: NRC

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Comments arranged by date (Total 2 comments)  
August 12 2014, 02:14PM

Thank you Beatrice for this article. I am very happy that Amsterdam is receiving so much positive attention. However, I totally agree with this topic. Living in the heart of Amsterdam (opposite) Anne Frank's House, the poor tourists that are lined/queued/pushed up around the Westertoren is ridiculous. After the visit (if lucky enough to get in), they are then treated to a spectacular bike show. When tourists, Amsterdamers and Expats delight them with their cyclling sklills, on the pavement, ignoring the red light and totally forgetting about the zebra crossing. Let's hope that The Mayor of Amsterdam appreciates Pijbes concerns, views and great Delta Plan idea!

August 28 2014, 09:04AM

"Pijbes points out that the strain on the city is already visible in the amount of litter, the irritations and the queues that can be seen in and around the centre. Beer bikes, stag or hen parties, and litter [...]"
Well...beer bikes - I think this is something unusual, something that could be seen as part of the tourist package, although, they are rather employed by the Dutch people than the tourists.
Stag or hen parties? Oh, yes...and they are 99% made up of young Dutch people, NOT by tourists!
Litter? yes, that's plenty, especially when it comes to all kind of celebrations, especially Queen's/King's Day! And, who do you think it's responsible for the mess? The same Dutch people, those inhabiting the Amsterdam who go out and drink and sell their junks from the attic! When the day is over, they leave all the mess behind! I think that less than 10% of the crowd is made of tourists!
So, let's stop blaming the tourists and look first into your own garden; educate Amsterdam population first!

About the Author
Beatrice Clarke

Beatrice is a native Melbournian who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. With a background in independ...



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