Cities thrive on the income generated by tourists, but can tourism become too much? In Amsterdam, it has. Rowdy tourists partying in the red-light city is being interrupted by city officials and the city’s motto “residents come first” is gaining momentum.
Overtourism is ruining much of Amsterdam’s heart and soul. According to figures from NBTC Holland Marketing, 17.6 million people visited the Netherlands last year, which is an increase of 11 percent from 2017. Many of Amsterdam’s residents are distraught and feel helpless about the influx of tourists that grows each year. From tacky tourist shops to drunken visitors who run wild in the streets, Amsterdam’s residents are fed-up with the non-stop party.
“There’s a feeling that those who are left are not living in their own neighborhood anymore,” Amsterdam resident Bert Nap said. “Amsterdam is starting to look like a playground for visitors; what people call, Disneyfication,” Amsterdam is, after all, a place where people live and not a tourist museum.
The most surprising result of Amsterdam’s Disneyfication is that the city does not invest money into attracting more visitors, not even 1Euro, according to Frans van der Avert, Amsterdam Marketing Chief Executive. Rather, the city wants to improve the quality of visitors.
City officials are aware of the residents’ complaints and have developed strategies to combat overtourism, which includes limiting the number of days per year Airbnb hosts can rent their properties increasing the tourist tax. Other measures include diverting cruise ships from docking in the city center and regulating “wild” tourist attractions, such as Segways, beer bikes, and booze cruise boat rides. It’s not so much about making tourists feel unwelcome in the city, but rethinking how tourism can be a benefit and not a burden.
While Amsterdam does not invest in tourist attraction, it is investing in marketing efforts that encourage tourists to visit sites outside of the city center and in other less popular parts of the city. Amsterdam is using billboards, a multilingual website, and special promotional booklets to persuade visitors to visit 11 of the city’s districts, according to DutchNews.nl. Set to open in 2023, HollandWorld will be a non-gated theme park located next to the Schiphol Airport that showcases the best of Dutch economic and cultural sectors.
One curious question remains—What effect might this have on shopper culture? With Amsterdam no longer pursuing tourists, this could mean that the city might become more expensive, with airlines and travel agencies less inclined to offer deals. Without money being invested in attracting more visitors, tourists might also be left to their own devices when it comes to finding the correct tourist information. And there is always the possibility that they will choose another destination that entices them more. How Amsterdam responds to overtourism and its implications on the economy could be a lesson for all major European cities. Stay tuned.
Contributed By:Matthias Rauschen &Lynn Gampert, Integer Hamburg
Image Source: Hollandworld