Amsterdam hotels, restaurants in real danger as coronavirus fears spread

Cars parked along an Amsterdam canal
Cars parked along an Amsterdam canalearlytwentiesDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Amsterdam's hospitality industry is facing real problems due to the coronavirus Covid-19. The number of bookings in hotels and restaurants is plummeting, and cancelations are increasing. "This is going to be a disaster," Nico Evers of Horeca Nederland, the trade association for the hospitality sector, said to Het Parool

The Amsterdam hospitality industry is calling on the municipality and national government for emergency support. They want the 3 euros per person per night tourist tax, which was introduced earlier this year, to be put on hold, and emergency loans for companies in danger of collapsing.

"In the first nine days of March alone, the occupancy rate in Amsterdam hotels is 30 percent lower," Ever said to the newspaper. The first hotels to apply for a reduction in operating hours and part-time unemployment benefits have already notified Horeca Nederland. "Other hotels close entire floors to save costs or do not extend temporary contracts and send flexible workers home."

But these measures are not enough. Over the past two weeks, Horeca Nederland has been receiving reports from hotels who can't pay their tourist tax in advance. "That payment is based on the figures from last year. If you are now 30 percent below that, you will run into problems. We want the municipality to be lenient on that," Evers said to the newspaper. 

Restaurants are experiencing similar problems. According to the trade association, Amsterdam restaurants are facing 30 percent lower turnover than the same period last year. "And almost all events with more than 100 participants are being canceled or postponed."

Horeca Nederland is pleased that public health institute RIVM is staying realistic and not advising that events need to be canceled, as is happening in France, Germany and Switzerland. But the association is critical of the government. "It is very good that [Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema] and [Prime Minister Mark Rutte] are calling for calm. But we are waiting for concrete measures. We would like to speak to the office [of mayor and aldermen] about direct measures," Evers said.