Should there be a limit on tourism in Amsterdam?

Should there be a limit on tourism in Amsterdam?

A petition asking for a limit to the number of Amsterdam tourists every year has received nearly 30.000 signatures in two weeks.

The goal of the petition

The petition asks tourism in Amsterdam to be capped at 12 million overnight stays per year, significantly lower than the 18 million visitors that 2019 welcomed. The number was taken from the tourist figures from 2014, and aims to avoid the busyness of pre-lockdown and bring it back to a manageable level. The cap would be in place for the coming five years. 

As part of the imposed limitation, the petition demands a ban on holiday rentals, a stop to any new or expanding hotels in Amsterdam, and an increase in tourist tax. It also asks for the instatement of a Councillor for Tourism and Quality of Life (Wethouder van Toerisme & Leefbaarheid) to monitor Amsterdam tourism and communicate with locals to help maintain a balance. 

Arguing that the pre-lockdown levels of tourism are unsustainable for the city, the petition hopes to diversify the city’s economy, with residents instead of tourists at its heart. It asks for a concrete plan for the future of tourism in the city that allows for residents to feel at home and tourists to feel welcome, with the city centre as a meeting place for all. The ultimate goal is to have a balance between life, work, and play.

Proposed as a people’s initiative, the petition has surpassed the 27.000 it needs to be discussed by the Amsterdam City Council. At the time of writing, the petition had 29.576 signatures.

Tourism in lockdown

The coronavirus lockdown brought tourism to a standstill, dropping from an average of approximately 55.000 visitors to the capital per day to almost zero. Statistics Netherlands have reported that the number of international overnight guests in the Netherlands was down by as much as 66 percent in March.

Many businesses in Amsterdam rely on tourism, and Martijn Badir, one of the co-creators of the petition, believes this dependency has been highlighted over the past few months while Amsterdam has been under lockdown. 

Response to the petition

Willem Koster from the Amsterdam City Lobby Association believes the cap of 12 million is an unrealistic number, that will deliver a huge blow to the capital. He says it will further the damage done to Dutch business by the coronavirus lockdown. 

Badir however is encouraged by the support the petition has garnered, and is hopeful that it will encourage change. Even if the proposal is unsuccessful at the city council, he is confident it will go to a referendum, giving the people of Amsterdam the opportunity to show that they also have their say.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsama has also voiced concern regarding the return to high tourism levels while keeping coronavirus under control. The municipality of Amsterdam has banned holiday rentals in parts of the capital this July, with any hopeful renters outside of these designated areas facing fines of up to 20.000 euros if they don't have a permit.

The Amsterdam City Council has asked the Dutch government to implement an emergency shut down to overnight accommodation should the city threaten to become too full and public health be at risk. 

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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