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  • Writer's pictureVicky Lopez

AMSTERDAM SAYS - GOODBYE (or rather not HELLO)



In a bold move that's causing quite the buzz, Amsterdam has decided to wave goodbye to new hotel developments and put a cap on the number of tourists spending the night. It's the city's latest strategy in their fight against the tidal wave of tourists that's been washing over the streets, turning the canal-lined paradise into a bit of a squeezy affair.


Amsterdam
Amsterdam Bike Lot - Just one of many.


Under the new scheme, Amsterdam's doors are closed to fresh hotel projects unless an old one bites the dust, and even then, the newcomer needs to be an upgrade in terms of modernity or sustainability. Green is in, folks! Plus, the city's nudging developers to look beyond the center, perhaps to places where the only traffic jams are caused by ducks crossing the canal.


However, if a hotel's already got its golden ticket (a.k.a. building permit), it's business as usual. No takesies backsies there.


The plot thickens with a twist on overnight stays. The city’s setting the sleepover limit to 20 million nights a year, shaving off a sizable chunk from last year's numbers. So it’s kind of like a giant sleepover party that’s exclusive but still pretty huge.  I’m not sure how they will monitor or enforce this, but there will be some empty hotel rooms, and the owners will not like that.



My first visit to Amsterdam was in 2003.  It was a bit crowded, but not obnoxiously so.  Then I had a return trip in 2021, 2022, and most recently 2024.  The crowds have grown exponentially over the past several years.  In 2024 it was even off-season, and it was the absolute most crowded I’ve ever seen it.  It may as well have been in the middle of peak-season!  So it is no wonder that they want to slow the roll on tourism.  This also falls on the tails of Amsterdam limiting the number of cruise ships that can arrive on any given day.  Tourists that don’t spend the night, just crowd everything during the day, making it extremely difficult for the local residents that have apparently had enough.


“Keeping Amsterdam livable is the goal,” declares the city’s government. That translates to dialing down on the tourist deluge, hitting pause on hotel constructions, and sticking to that 20 million overnight stay marker.



In a side note worth mentioning, visitor taxes have hiked up to a whopping 12.5%. And yes, that includes you, luxury liner aficionados.


Amsterdam isn't the only hotspot trying to cool down the tourist fever. Venice is thinking of charging day-trippers a fee and saying no to oversized tour groups. Over in Iceland, a tourist tax is in the works to back climate and sustainability efforts. Greece had a trial run limiting the crowd at the Acropolis, and Kyoto is kindly asking tourists to steer clear of certain alleys to keep the peace in its geisha district.


Stateside, Hawaii's thinking of a $25 welcome charge for tourists, aiming to fund nature preservation and safety measures. 


All in all, it's clear that while these destinations love their visitors, maintaining the beauty and tranquility that drew crowds in the first place is tops on their to-do list. 


Check with me when you’re ready to book your Amsterdam experience.  Whether it’s a pre/post river cruise, or a few days of fun, I can make it happen.



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