Wednesday 20 January 2021

A tax on day trippers and Airbnb ban: ideas to upgrade Amsterdam tourism

Amsterdam’s red light district during the spring lockdown. Credit: Alex Nicholls-Lee

A tax on day trippers, a discount card for residents and a total ban on holiday rentals via agencies such as Airbnb are some of the ideas drawn up by city council marketing agency Amsterdam & Partners to overhaul city tourism.

The recommendations have been drawn up by researchers, residents, local firms and representatives from the cultural sector with the aim of making sure that the days of mass budget tourism are over.

‘Coronavirus has shown us what we are missing through the absence of visitors but also how nice it is to be a customer and visitor in our own city,’ Amsterdam & Partners marketing chief Geerte Udo told the Parool newspaper. Over the past few years, a number of residents have become estranged from the city because of the enormous number of tourists, Udo said.

The suggestions now being put forward for further investigation include a tourist tax for day trippers. Tourist tax on overnight stays and boat trips generates some €200m for the city’s coffers in a normal year.

‘About half of all tourists are here for the day, and it is not okay to make hotels and canal tour operators the only ones to pay the price,’ Udo said. ‘We are not saying you need to introduce a toll for everyone who comes to the city from outside. Our advice is to research if a city tax would have a role.’

Discounts

Another idea to give residents a special discount card for museums and shops which, says Udo, could encourage them to make more use of the city and reduce the reliance of some companies and cultural institutions on tourists.

The agency is also supporting growing calls for a change to the city’s notorious red light district to discourage tourists who only come to look at prostitutes and take drugs.

According to the Volkskrant, Udo estimates 20% to 25% of tourists have no respect or real interest in the city. ‘Those we can do without,’ she told the paper.

Red light district

The city is already working on plans to redevelop the red light district, and one option under consideration is moving the window brothels to a purpose built location elsewhere.

In addition, holiday rentals in private homes should be banned as soon as possible, the agency report says. Airbnb is already banned in some busy parts of the city.

The agency also suggests focusing more on congress and museum visitors – a wide definition which would also include visits to the Heineken experience centre, the Volkskrant said.

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