Saturday 18 September 2021

Dirty, sleazy, too full: Rijksmuseum chief’s warning for Amsterdam

Amsterdam is becoming dirty, sleazy and too full and if changes are not made, the city will be unable to cope with its millions of tourists, the director of the Rijksmuseum says in an open letter in NRCnext.

The city authorities need to be given all the room they need to ensure the city remains liveable and while the first steps have been taken, much more remains to be done, Wim Pijbes said in his letter.

The number of visitors to the city’s Museum square has now reached five million a year.

‘Nowhere else in the Netherlands do so many people come together in such a tiny space,’ he said. ‘On top of that there are day trippers, visitors and people just passing through without visiting the museums.’


The limits to the city’s growth as a tourist destination are now being reached, he wrote. ‘Everyone who visits the city on a daily basis sees it: the litter, the irritations, the queues’.

In particular, the city should clamp down on illegal short-stay rentals and the ‘shameful abuses in prostitution’. Drugs policy needs to be tackled and something done about the growing plague of ‘beer bikes’, segways and other forms of transport.

There need to be more bike parking facilities and an end to the ‘medieval way of disposing of rubbish’.

‘In the richest parts of the city, rubbish bags are torn open by gulls, rats and other vermin’, Pijbes wrote.


Pijbes is not the only person to warn about the impact of tourism on Amsterdam. Earlier this year, chairman of Amsterdam Centrum borough council said a careful balance needs to be struck to make sure the volume and type of tourists in Amsterdam do not become a problem for its residents.

Research last year showed many city centre residents are unhappy about the growth in tourist numbers. Some 85,000 people live in central Amsterdam but on a daily basis, the population swells to around 200,000 people.

‘If people like you and I visit the city, no-one has a problem,’ Oranje told Trouw. ‘But there are a lot of tourists who view Amsterdam as a sort of Disneyland experience. Or take the stag and hen parties which move around with enormous penis hats on. That does create problems.’

See also: 10 things which drive us mad about tourists in Amsterdam

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