Ryanair lashes out at Amsterdam Marketing over tourism complaints
Irish low-cost airline Ryanair lashed out at Amsterdam tourism company Amsterdam Marketing following statements by CEO Frans van der Avert about budget airlines and house sharing destroying European cities, naming Ryanair and Airbnb specifically. Instead of disrespecting other companies and the millions of tourists who visit Amsterdam each year, critique should fall on the leadership of the organization responsible of running Amsterdam tourism, Ryanair marketing director Kenny Jacobs said to Irish newspaper The Journal.
Speaking at the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne, Switzerland, Amsterdam Marketing CEO Van der Avert said that European "cities are dying from tourism" and that "no one will be living in the historic centers anymore." He added that Amsterdam's plan is to no longer increase the number of visitors, but rather "increase the quality of visitors". "We want people who are interested in the city, not who want it as a backdrop for a party", Van der Avert said. "We see lots of visitors with no respect for the character of the city. Low cost carriers create a problem. Ryanair - they are the loudest.
In reaction, Jacobs told The Journal that Amsterdam Marketing is disrespecting the 14 million tourists who visit Amsterdam every year by implying that they are low quality. He also pointed out that Ryanair only flies about 525 thousand people to Amsterdam per year, and half of those are Dutch. Jacobs added that about a 10th of Dutch work in the tourism industry.
"Yes, Amsterdam does have a lot of tourists, cities like Barcelona and Prague are also very popular and at certain times of year some locals do consider it too much. But that does not mean you stop tourism or show such disrespect to the tourists that do come as Mr. Van der Avert does when he says he wants to 'increase the quality' of the visitors." Jacobs said. "If Mr. Van der Avert feels that Amsterdam is only attracting tourists who want to party he should not criticize the tourists, he should criticize the leadership of the organization responsible for running Amsterdam tourism, who are clearly incapable of marketing the city to tourist segments other than party goers. Wait a minute, that's Mr. Van der Avert's job!"
Van der Avert sent NL Times a written response in which he says that his statements at the World Tourism Forum were taken out of context. "The article on which Ryanair responds, does not give a good summary of my story." Van der Avert was asked to speak briefly about Amsterdam's City in Balance file and how it compares to other European cities. "In that story I showed that many historical city centers in Europe are under great pressure from the increasing number of visitors. That requires measures to regulate pressure, in order to maintain the balance between living, working and visiting. One measure that a city marketing organization can take is to promote an even spread within and outside the city. Another is specifically focusing on quality tourism. Both measures are currently being carried out by Amsterdam Marketing."
He added that Amsterdam Marketing knows that there is no stopping the increasing flow of visitors, as he said in his speech. "This is due to growing prosperity, organizations like Airbnb and the low-cost carriers, such as Ryanair, making it easier and cheaper to book city trips (also for Amsterdammers). The connection between Ryanair and nuisance causing visitors was not made by me in my story."