The covid 19 pandemic has kept Amsterdam as a tourist-free city for a couple of months now. However, now that covid 19 numbers are gradually dying down, the tourism sector is up for revival but with a whole new approach and sustainability, which has become a controversial concept in the city. Before the pandemic, Amsterdam experienced a crisis over massive tourism with the locals feeling alienated by the bunches of rowdy tourists, rubbish strewn all over parks and streets, too much noise, and general public disorder in this historical city. Following the covid 19 crisis, the city went from receiving a whopping 55000 visitors a day to almost zero visitors.
Like the rest of the European countries, the Netherlands is now easing its restrictions. Amsterdam’s authorities want to make sure that the city goes back to quality and sustainable tourism. They want to revert the number of tourists that visit the city every day back to the way it was in 2014 before the situation overturned due to an increase in low fare flights and budget tours.
The state of the tourism sector in Amsterdam
According to Maximilian Lang-Orsini, a budding artist in Amsterdam, the city’s cultural sector has hugely been affected by the pandemic. Many neighborhoods have died down since the pandemic started. For instance, many businesses in the city’s red-light district have reported up to 90% of revenue losses, while the overall hotel occupancy rates have decreased dramatically. That is strange for a city that has seen an upsurge of tourists in the last years. In 2019, 19million tourists flocked Amsterdam, and the number was expected to rise by 50% in 2020. Although such huge numbers were beneficial to the local merchants, the boozing and pot-smoking type of tourist proved to be bothersome to the residents, according to the city authorities. Some areas were overcrowded with tourists, that the residents didn’t feel at home anymore.
Creating sustainable tourism
The city council initiated some measures in the last two years to enhance quality tourism in Amsterdam, such as raising the tourists’ tax. In addition to that, the council is still pushing a ban on holiday rentals in three areas to revitalize areas dominated by cut-price tourism. That is to bring back tourists to the city center to make Amsterdam more liveable for its locals after the pandemic.
Will tourists visit Amsterdam this Christmas?
It remains unclear if international tourists will visit Amsterdam this Christmas even though the covid 19 numbers have died down. Again, there is the challenge of the measures put in place by the city’s council to create sustainable tourism. The subject has sparked controversy, but the board insists that restarting quality tourism is the only way to ensure it does not affect the city’s liveability. Some of the plans made include developing a workable waste management system, establishing environmentally-friendly mobility solutions, and crowd management systems to manage busy areas.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With restrictions on non-essential travel still in place, Amsterdam expects a gradual recovery in the tourism sector. International visitors are expected in few numbers this Christmas, which is subject to change for the better if the new covid 19 vaccines are effective. Otherwise, Amsterdam is encouraging domestic travel for its residents to safely explore the city and support the tourism sector and businesses’ reopening.
Written by: Maximilian Lang-Orsini