Amsterdam plans tourist tax hike to squeeze out low spenders.
With its network of canals and distinctive architectural style, Amsterdam is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. It is also home to many excellent museums and has a long and rich cultural heritage.
However, it is possibly just as well-known for some of its less salubrious aspects, notably the cannabis cafés and infamous red-light district.
In response to pressure from local residents, the city is planning to increase the tourist tax to discourage budget visitors in favour of those who are likely to spend more money, reports The Guardian.
This might seem like a reasonable solution to a somewhat intractable problem but there are always different sides to any story. In common with other popular destinations like Barcelona, where the undercurrent of anti-tourist sentiment recently spilled out into low-level activism, Amsterdam residents decry the adverse effects of unrestricted mass-tourism on their historic city centre.
Increasing numbers of tourists inevitably inflict what many would see as negative changes on a city, with the accompanying growth in the number of hotels and other tourist facilities, and locals often find themselves being priced out of the housing market. The result is an erosion of the authenticity and character that the tourists come to see in the first place.
On the other hand, it could be argued that this reaction is also a manifestation of the anti-foreigner, anti-outsider sentiment that seems to have been sweeping across Europe recently. Strong anecdotal evidence suggests that even London, one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities, is becoming palpably less welcoming to foreign visitors.
Yet another argument could be that the increased focus on high-value tourism while putting the squeeze on budget travellers could be motivated by nothing other than greed. Possibly, there is an element of truth in all of these interpretations.
The result, however, is the same. While richer visitors to the city will be unaffected, less wealthy holidaymakers who come for Amsterdam’s less highbrow attractions may no longer find the city such an appealing choice.
While the brothels and the pot shops provide a service for those who require them and have always generated a certain amount of tourism, one unwelcome consequence of the new policy will be that hard-up clubbers may find one of Europe’s undisputed capitals of dance music less accessible.
Amsterdam’s renowned nightlife has included some of the scene’s most influential clubs, a tradition which continues today with the opening of new venues to replace the likes of recently-closed Studio 80 and Trouw. Holland is also still producing exciting new talent to follow in the footsteps of established Dutch artists such as Tiësto and Armin van Buuren, to name but two, and it would be a tragedy if the new tourist tax deprives party people from further afield the opportunity to experience the city’s vibrant and thriving clubbing scene first hand.