In Empty Amsterdam, Reconsidering Tourism

The support of prostitutes and coffee shop owners has been confirmed in several interviews with Amsterdam residents, including Roy Van Kempen, a 31-year-old marketing manager who has lived in Amsterdam since 2008.

“Paris has the Eiffel Tower and we have the red light district and the idea that anything is possible in Amsterdam. And I would like to leave it that way, ”he said.

But Irina, Mr Helms, Mr Van Kempen and half a dozen other Amsterdam residents interviewed agreed that the city center has a big problem: a tourist “monoculture” has taken root and the residents are being displaced. Businesses and services that were once intended for locals – high quality bakeries, butchers, and the like – have been replaced by jewelry stores, ice cream parlors, and “Nutella shops” that serve take-away waffles and other hazelnut-smeared treats, especially on Tourists. Meanwhile, rising property prices – in part due to the rise of Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms – have made the city center unaffordable for many locals.

That monoculture came into the spotlight last year, Ms. Udo said, adding she was impressed with how deserted the city center felt during the pandemic, especially compared to other parts of Amsterdam. “That was a real eye opener,” she said. “There aren’t enough people who live and work there to bring that vibrancy back into the neighborhood when the visitors are gone.”

In addition to the restrictions proposed by the mayor’s office, city officials and some residents have also tried gentler approaches to addressing tourism-related problems, some of which were successfully introduced before the pandemic.

A key strategy was to reach visitors before they even arrive. Amsterdam’s Enjoy and Respect campaign, launched in 2018, targeted the root cause of behavior problems – Dutch and British men between 18 and 34 years of age – with news about the fines that could result from urinating on the street, rubbish or getting drunk in common areas. A subsequent survey found that the news had reached at least some of this audience, but measuring the effectiveness of the campaign has proven to be a challenge.

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