In Empty Amsterdam, Reconsidering Tourism

Support for prostitutes and cafe owners has been reiterated in various 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 area and this idea that everything is possible in Amsterdam. And I would like to keep it that way, actually, “he said.

But Irina, Mr. Helms, Mr. Van Kempen and half a dozen other Amsterdammers interviewed agreed that the city center has a big problem: A “monoculture” tourism has taken root and residents are being evicted. Businesses and services that used to serve the locals – high-quality bakeries, butchers and the like – have been replaced by bauble shops, ice cream shops and “Nutella shops”, which serve sprinkled waffles and other delicacies that are mainly smeared on the fluff. Meanwhile, rising house prices – due in part to the rise of Airbnb and other holiday rental platforms – have made the city center inaccessible to many locals.

This monoculture has come to the fore in the last year, Ms Udo said, adding that she was impressed by how desolate the city center felt during the pandemic, especially compared to other parts of Amsterdam. “That was a real eye opener,” he said. “There are not enough people living there and working there to get that liveliness back in 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 more lenient approaches to tackling tourism-related problems, some of which began successfully before the pandemic.

A critical strategy was to try to reach the visitors before they even arrived. The Amsterdam Enjoyment and Respect campaign, launched in 2018, targeted the main source of behavioral problems – Dutch and British men aged 18 to 34 – with messages about fines that could be incurred by urinating on the street, rubbish or drunk in public places. Subsequent research showed that the messages had reached at least a portion of this audience, but measuring the effectiveness of the campaign proved challenging.

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