'Party city' Amsterdam to crack down on tourists

The Hague (AFP) –


Amsterdam is seeking to contain the flood of tourists swamping the city, with the incoming council proposing a series of tough measures and plans to hike tourism taxes.

Some 18 million tourists visit Amsterdam every year -- more than the entire population of the Netherlands -- and local residents have become increasingly fed-up at the deluge.

The city's picturesque narrow streets and canals now sag year round under the weight of all the visitors, including increasing numbers of raucous and unruly stag and hen parties.

Under a plan "to seek a new balance" put forward by the four parties forming the city's next coalition council, popular activities like beer-bikes and boozy boat trips will be sharply curtailed.

"Tourism is part of the international culture of Amsterdam, which we should continue to cherish," the plan says, a copy of which was obtained Thursday by AFP.

But due to "nuisance, crowds and rubbish, some neighbourhoods are under extreme pressure."

Amsterdam is first and foremost "a city to live in and to do business," the plan says, adding "it is only secondly a tourist destination."

From 2019 tourist taxes will be hiked to 7.0 percent, while the city will also look at ways to cut back on the number of hotel rooms.

In some swamped neighbourhoods a total ban on holiday rentals may be introduced, and plans for a new passenger terminal for large cruise ships will be scrapped.

"We are looking for an alternative location outside of Amsterdam," the plan says.

The city already announced in January that it would impose a new 30-day curb on the renting of private homes via websites like online booking giant Airbnb from next year. And this will be strictly enforced, the parties pledged.