The Dutch capital, Amsterdam, has historically been a popular city break hotspot and a much-loved port of call for cruising itineraries. Every year 20 million visitors descend on the city many of whom are attracted to its “party” reputation.
To put that into perspective, London, another visitor favourite, spreads over 1,572 square kilometres, has eight million visitors and gets 30 million visitors every year. Amsterdam has just one million inhabitants that live in just 219.4 square kilometres – an eighth of the size of London.
Amsterdam, has become a victim of its own popularity, and overtourism has been considered a big problem for some time. A clamp-down started to take place in 2021. First, the agenda was to discourage the cannabis smoking brigade, especially around the red-light district.
Then in March 2023 Amsterdam’s council launched a campaign to discourage stag dos and tourists looking for a messy weekend.
Now all eyes are on mass tourism brought to the city by cruise ships. With more than 100 moorings in the capital every year, it has been deemed unacceptable.
Now Amsterdam’s council has banned cruise ships from the city centre in a bid to further reduce visitor numbers and curb pollution. Politicians said the vessels were not in line with the city’s sustainable ambitions and they are closing the central cruise terminal on the River IJ near Amsterdam’s main train station.
Ilana Rooderkerk of the liberal D66 party, which runs the city along with the Labour party and environmentalists likened cruise tourists as a type of “plague of locusts” descending all at once on the city.
“Cruise ships in the centre of the city don’t fit in with Amsterdam’s task of cutting the number of tourists”.
While some officials were aghast at the language Mayor Femke Halsema complained last year that cruise tourists descended on the city for a couple of hours, ate at international chains and had no time to visit a museum, consuming the city but doing little for it.
Plus the matter of pollution has also been cited as a key reason for ending passage for cruise ships. A 2021 study revealed that one big cruise ship produced the same levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in one day as 30,000 trucks.
There is talk about finding mooring sites away from the city centre, but no decision has been made.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for tourists. Amsterdam has announced plans to encourage night-time culture for young people. The aim is to identify nightclub locations such as disused tunnels and garages to bolster the talent of “creative young people who want to organise something at night”.