Residents protest against problem tourists as overnight stays in Amsterdam skyrocket

Rijksmuseum
. Fireworks and fanfare accompanied Dutch Queen Beatrix as she on Saturday reopened Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum (source: humanities.blogs.ie.edu)

A group of Amsterdam residents marched through the Kinkerbuurt on Thursday night to protest against the gentrification of Amsterdam West and the problems caused by tourism, Het Parool reports.

They carried banners and megaphones, shouting slogans like "Amsterdam, not for sale!" and "Who's city, our city!". The procession stopped at various locations, including at Jan Pieter Heijestraat, where there are plans to build a long-stay hotel with apartments, instead of housing.

Tourism is an ever increasing sector in the Dutch capital. On Thursday Statistics Netherlands revealed that Amsterdam accounted for a third of all the overnight stays in hotels during the first half of the year. That is 7.6 million overnight stays, an increase of 11 percent compared to the same period last year. These figures do not include people visiting the city through house sharing sites like Airbnb. 

Amsterdam finance alderman Udo Kock is working on a new way of charging tourist tax that can bring in an additional 150 million euros per year for the city from 2019, NU.nl reports. After investigating five options, Kock decided on a variant in which extra tax is charged on top of a percentage of the overnight price. The extra tax will be a fixed amount of 5 or 10 euros, and bring in an estimated 70 to 150 million euros, according to the newspaper. 

This year, Amsterdam is expected to make 67 million euros in tourist tax and about 80 million euros next year. If a fixed amount of 10 euros is added to the percentage tax in 2019, tourist tax will bring in a massive 230 million euros, according to NU.nl.

This new tax will particularly affect so-called budget tourists, who will feel the extra 5 to 10 euros per night in their wallets. And that is exactly what the alderman wants - to make the bottom of the tourist market more expensive, according to the newspaper. That would mean that Amsterdam can get more tourists who spend more money. "Tourists who want something more luxurious go out for dinner and to the theater or the museum, which gives Amsterdam more added value than those who buy a supermarket sandwich and eat it on the Wallen", a spokesperson for Kock said. 

Whether this plan will actually be implemented, will be up to Kock's successor after the municipal elections. Kock thinks that tourists should pay more tax because they use the public space. 

 

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