Thursday 24 May 2018

Amsterdam bans Airbnb and hikes taxes to halt city's 'Disneyfication'

Cyclists ride on a bridge in central Amsterdam. Photo: Reuters/Yves Herman
Cyclists ride on a bridge in central Amsterdam. Photo: Reuters/Yves Herman

Senay Boztas Amsterdam

Amsterdam, city of red lights and cannabis cafes, may soon be pulling the plug on the party.

Following the examples of Barcelona and Venice, Amsterdam's main political parties have announced radical measures to turn down the volume of tourism and reverse the "Disneyfication" of the Dutch capital.

A coalition of four parties, negotiating to form the new city government, yesterday issued a pledge of agreed reforms to provide "balance in the city".

It will ban Airbnb short-term rentals in busy areas, divert cruise ships from docking in the centre, and crack down on "fun rides" like Segways, beer bikes, and boozy boat trips. The tourist tax will also rise from between 4pc and 6pc to a flat 7pc - raising €105m a year by 2022.

"We have to ensure the city stays liveable for all residents," said Yvette Hofman, spokesman for the GroenLinks green-left party. "This is a subject that really matters to residents, who have felt under attack by increasing crowds, partly due to Airbnb and illegal hotels. They have complained they no longer know their neighbours and of [a tourist] monoculture in the centre. This is about balance."

The news comes a month after Eurostar announced a direct train service from London to Amsterdam. It follows measures such as city permits and turnstiles on busy streets in Venice, a ban on private rentals to tourists in Palma, Majorca, and a bar on new hotels in Barcelona.

Tourism was a central issue in the recent Amsterdam city elections, which saw the leading D66 liberal democrats overtaken by GroenLinks, which campaigned to reduce the tourist nuisance and provide more middle-income homes - since tourist rental apartments are blamed for exacerbating a severe shortage of housing.

Amsterdam, one of Airbnb's top locations, has seen a huge rise in tourist numbers, with 18 million people expected to visit this year - up from 11 million in 2005, according to the research bureau SEO.

Last year the city announced heavy fines for exceeding Airbnb limits, and a ban on new tourist shops. From next year the number of days permitted for Airbnb-type hire will be halved to 30.

The new coalition document includes cleaning up the city and controlling advertising. Tour boats will have to board and unload outside the centre and tour guides outside the red light district will need a permit. "Amsterdam is a city to live, stay and do business. Only after this is it a tourist destination. We want to spread the nuisance and needs of tourism better."

Ms Hofman added that since GroenLinks, D66 and the Labour and Socialist Party are not opposed to cannabis cafes, the document does not deal with cannabis: "There are lots of tourists who only come to the city for this, so we need to ensure it isn't a nuisance for residents." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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