Tourism is being “restructured” in Amsterdam, said the mayor of the city, Femke Halsema. The main goal is stated directly – a new tourism development plan aims to ensure that Amsterdam is no longer considered a place where you need to go “for sex and drugs.”
With a plan to be prepared, it aims to transform Amsterdam from a place to come for “sex and drugs” to a city where tourists come to see beautiful museums and experience culture and art. Amsterdam also hopes, thanks to the new plan, to avoid the problem of London – developed due to excessive high prices due to tourists, and the problem of Venice – where “overtourism” literally evicts local residents.
A year before the pandemic, Amsterdam, which received 22 million visitors, was also suffering from overtourism, and especially from tourists who arrived with not the best intentions – attracted by the image of the city of “free morals”, that is, just for “sex and drugs”. “A return to the pre-Covid situation must be avoided. There must be a plan based on a healthy visitor profile that enriches the city and its residents, and the economy based on it,” the mayor said. “Unwanted” tourists are still a minority, she says, and tourism is an important part of the economy.
“We need to solve two problems. The first problem is what I call the London problem: our city is getting too expensive. This is becoming a problem primarily for our middle class – because of tourists, the price of rent rises high, people cannot pay and leave the city. We need social stability and property price controls for our citizens. The second problem is the Venetian one: the people who live here, especially in the city center, because of the huge tourist flow, begin to feel like strangers in their city. We need to find a new balance to keep Amsterdam's locals comfortable while welcoming international visitors and tourists.”
As for the “commercialization” of Amsterdam internationally in terms of drugs and prostitution, the mayor's point is tough: this is no longer acceptable. The accumulation of tourists in the Red Light District has led to an increase in crime in the city. Similarly, the Amsterdam “coffee shops” where many tourists go to look for cannabis – demand is growing, and this also leads to an increase in organized crime. According to the mayor, a city council meeting will be held in September to ban the sale of cannabis in the city.
In general, the plan is planned to be implemented by 2025. According to him, the tourism economy should add value to the city and not cause discomfort to local residents.
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