AMSTERDAM, April 23 ― The Venice of the North is struggling to keep up with the influx of tourists. Determined to ensure the peace and quiet of its residents, Amsterdam has decided not to authorise the opening of any new hotels in the city centre. This latest measure is part of a vast plan to not only regulate visitor numbers, but also overhaul the image of the famous Dutch destination.

In the year 2000, Amsterdam set a new record for welcoming four million tourists in a single year. At the time, the tourist board prided itself on being a popular destination. And this popularly hasn't waned over the years ― quite the opposite, in fact. Schiphol Airport has become increasingly popular, with more connections, while the redevelopment of an industrial district on the banks of the River IJ in the 2010s has also boosted the appeal of the city, where the A'Dam Toren lookout tower has become one of the must-see attractions for its views. In 2018, Amsterdam set another new record, this time for the number of river cruises calling at the city, totalling 2,007. Over the years, the presence of these boats has only increased, up from 1,382 such calls in 2012. Before the travel world was brought to a standstill by the pandemic, Amsterdam reached peak visitor numbers in 2019, recording over 21 million overnight stays.

By this time, the Dutch destination was already becoming aware of the damaging effects of its popularity with tourists, launching a plan dedicated to better regulating its visitor numbers as far back as 2018. The first concrete steps were taken last year, when the city council decided to ban river cruises from the city centre. To limit overtourism, Amsterdam has also regulated the number of flights to Schiphol airport. Arrivals are now capped at 452,500 per year, 9.5 per cent less than in 2019. In addition, the cost of its tourist tax has risen to 12.5 per cent, making Amsterdam the most expensive European destination in this respect.


The “Vision 2035” plan has brought about a profound overhaul of the city's image, often associated with recreational cannabis tourism. Consumption was banned in the famous Red Light District last year. As part of its “Stay Away” campaign, launched in March 2023, the city has also sought to curb pub crawls and other drinking tours, typically organised for bachelor parties, that often ended in general binge-drinking on the banks of the canals.

Now, in a recently released news release, the tourist board has outlined a new measure to further limit overtourism, namely with a ban on the opening of new hotels. No more brand-new establishments will see the light of day in the city centre, except for projects already approved, such as that of the Rosewood group, which won its victory over local residents to open this year after many years of confrontation. The luxury hotel has taken up residence in Amsterdam's former Palace of Justice, in what is its very first location in the Netherlands. Some 25 other new hotels already underway have yet to open. After that, they will only be authorised if an old hotel closes, and provided that the new project is in phase with environmental concerns and offers the same capacity. ― ETX Studio