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

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.

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

Beatrice Clarke


Beatrice Clarke

Beatrice is a native Melbournian who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. With a background in independent publishing and fashion, Beatrice honed her understanding of Dutch language and culture working...

Read more



Leave a comment