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  • Writer's pictureChuka Nwanazia

The Explosive Growth of Tourism in Amsterdam - Advantages and Disadvantages.

Tourists in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Museumplein Area

A recent survey in the Netherlands showed that the number of tourists increased by 9 percent (42 million). That is the strongest growth in ten years. The increase mainly comes from abroad: 18 million foreign guests all spent 44 million nights in the Netherlands. 80 percent came from Europe, while the number of tourists from countries like Russia (another 36 percent) and China (26 percent) keeps rising at lightning speed.

The Dutch government's attempts to spread tourists across the country seem to be failing for the time being. Amsterdam remains the most popular destination by far, with 37 percent of all foreign guests pouring into the capital. Cities like Giethoorn, Alkmaar, Haarlem, Leiden, Volendam and Zaanse Schans have also seen a rise in the number of visitors coming in.

Some consider the high influx of visitors bad news for Amsterdam. Some experts believe that while the rest of the Netherlands may be happy with the growth, things will only get out of hand in Amsterdam. Residents may soon start feeling the effects of mass tourism: the city is slowly becoming congested and unaffordable and with time, the disadvantages of the increase in visitors "may" outweigh the advantages.

To tackle the congestion and reverse the effects of mass tourism, the Dutch government has been trying for years to get tourists to visit other places in the Netherlands. Some experts consider this to be quite pointless. The crowd follows the crowd and you can never change that. Take Giethoorn as an example; A couple of Chinese tourists happened to discover the quiet Dutch town and after sharing some videos and pictures with friends and family in China, the town has become a "favourite" for Chinese tourists the world over! Amsterdam is a unique tourist destination and remains one of those European cities that almost every tourist wants to visit.

Measures To Curb Mass Tourism in Amsterdam.

The Mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema
Amsterdam's New Mayor Femke Halsema

In Amsterdam, there have always been calls to put measures in place to curb mass tourism, but tourism revenues are high: the sector accounts for 4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and more than 640,000 jobs. The economic importance is there for all to see, but there are also other interests. Without measures, Amsterdam will soon lose its appeal to tourists.

The municipality of Amsterdam recognises that the rapid growth of tourism is a win but also poses a problem, and says it is already considering measures, such as tourist tax for cruise passengers and limiting the growth of a number of hotels. Green Left Party (GroenLinks), big winner of the municipal elections in the capital, has already advocated stricter measures. The new Mayor of Amsterdam who also happens to be a member of the Green Left party will seek to put these measures in place. Her aim will be to promote Amsterdam as a tolerant, liberal and green city, where tourists are welcome but mass tourism is not.

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