The negative impact of tourism in Amsterdam is increasing and spreading into neighbourhoods beyond the city centre, new research reveals.
A heatmap, released today by travel specialist Travelbird using data from the City Survey on Crowdedness and Balance, summarizes the year-on-year perception of tourism among locals in Amsterdam.
It shows that the majority of residents feel that the their neighbourhood became more crowded between 2016 and 2017.
“The two neighbourhoods (outside the city centre) most affected by foreign tourists are located very close to the centre: Oud-Zuid and De Pijp,” said Steven Klooster, CEO of TravelBird. “These are areas that recently were not visited very much but there have been more and more tourists coming to see these parts of town. I myself live in Oud-Zuid and have seen this change. My impression is that, as this is relatively new for our area, there are going to be some folks unhappy with that change.”
In the neighbourhoods where residents feel that the number one cause for overcrowding is foreign tourists, the primary complaints were pavement hindrance, littering and traffic. The number of residents complaining about pavement congestion has grown the most in Oud-West a/De Baarsjes, suggesting this neighbourhood has seen the biggest boom in visitor footfall year-on-year.
Unsurprising for a country that prides itself on its cleanliness, the impact of litter is a hot topic across most neighbourhoods, with only a handful claiming that the problem has improved over the past year. Quizzed on whether there are too many holiday rentals, residents of the outer boroughs largely agreed – perhaps indicative of the continuing rise of letting sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway.
In response to the impact of mass tourism in the city, Travelbird has actively reduced the number of tours it sells in Amsterdam.
“Of course Amsterdam is a place you have to visit at some point, but than do it on off season or in such a way that you avoid the crowds,” said Steven Klooster. “We want to offer the best possible prices to our travellers and we think hotel prices in Amsterdam in peak season are too expensive. We’d rather offer better prices in low season.”
“I think the travel industry should be much more conscious about what it seeks to protect in the long term at the expense of short term profits,” he said. “We should work more with cities on planning, including accepting restrictions on tourist numbers. Amsterdam has to remain a city that is wonderful to live in as well as to visit. It is the residents that give the soul to the city, which in turn is what attracts travellers.”
So what can tourists do to help mitigate their impact on the lives of residents in Amsterdam? “Respect the surroundings, understand you are a visitor, act as you would want a tourist visiting your home town to act,” says Klooster.
The alternative, of course, is to go somewhere else entirely. “Go outside of peak season to destinations that have a lot of tourists, you will have a better experience and its more liveable for local residents. And if you have to travel in peak season, try a place that isn’t a place everybody else goes to, you will have a much better time.”
It is expected that 18 million visitors will have travelled to Amsterdam by the end of 2018, a number that is projected to rise to 30 million by 2025. This follows a pattern of exponential growth across the tourism industry, with tourist arrivals predicted to rise from 1.2 billion in 2018 to 1.8 billion by 2030.