Will coronavirus change Amsterdam’s tourism policies?

In recent years, Amsterdam has been overrun by tourists, and local residents have been feeling overwhelmed. Will coronavirus change how Amsterdam markets itself to tourists?

We’ve written before about Amsterdam’s tourism crisis. Overtourism has been a major problem for the Dutch capital city over the last ten or so years. In 2019, it was the 25th most visited city world-wide.  Drunk or otherwise inebriated tourists have been a particular problem: from urinating on people’s canal boats to boorish behaviour in the red light district, they have well and truly made a nuisance of themselves.

What are the problems tourists cause in Amsterdam?

They have also caused more structural issues such as the degradation of nature near popular tourist sites such as the Zaanse Schans, and the massive increase in housing prices for locals as more and more houses are put on AirBnB for tourists. There are also areas where regular stores for locals have disappeared, to be replaced with souvenir shops and nutella waffle providers.

Do Amsterdam locals want tourists to return?

But now, of course, tourists physically cannot come to Amsterdam, which begs the question: do the locals want them to come back when travel is possible again?

The answer, it seems, is quite a resounding “no”: at least, they don’t want the same volume and type of tourism they were experiencing before, the Washington Post reports. Having no tourists means that locals can reclaim the city streets, sitting outside their houses and actually getting to know their neighbours, now that they aren’t indistinguishable in a crowd.

Amsterdam has been working on limiting tourism

Before the crisis, efforts were being made to rein in the level of tourism the region was experiencing: more marketing of the Netherlands in general to tourists, restrictions on where AirBnB could operate, and a ban on stores that only served tourists. The IAmsterdam letters were removed.

But it may need to reverse this to save the economy

Now, residents fear that these measures might be lifted to help Amsterdam get its economy back on track after the crisis. After all, back in the 1970s and 80s, the last time Amsterdam wasn’t flooded with tourists, the city was in dire financial trouble. Residents were leaving to the suburbs, so the government had to search for a new source of income: and that was tourism.

It remains to be seen if Amsterdam will once again decide to loosen the reins on tourism, or if it will stick to its guns on making the city liveable for locals in the long term.

What is your opinion on tourism in Amsterdam? Should it be reduced, or do we need it for the economy? Let us know in the comments below.

Feature Image: Ralf Gervink/Pixabay

Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.


  1. I have been a frequent business visitor to the city since 1990 (about 90 visits of 2-14 days each) and experienced the deterioration of quality of life, even as a visitor. Cheap airfare, cheap cruise lines and alternative accommodations democratized tourism to Amsterdam! Still, the measures implemented and proposed are all aimed at elitism. Its not about less tourism, its about having the ‘right’ tourists.
    Amsterdamers view themselves as progressive and egalitarians, are they?


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