Amsterdam’s New Tourist Rules: What You Need to Know

by SharonKurheg

“Overtourism” is a big world in today’s travel climate. People are traveling. Lots of people. And for locations that host upwards of tens of millions (or more) of visitors each year, all those extra people can cause a variety of undesirable effects for the places they  go to see, as well as the residents who live there.

In response to overtourism, cities in Japan, Spain and Italy, among others, have either begun, or plan to begin measures to help decrease the number of tourists who visit each year. How they (will) carry it out varies. Some charge (or have vastly increased) a daily fee to visit. Some require reservations to visit and have put a cap on the  number of people who are allowed to enter the city per day.

In the past, Amsterdam has played with a few ways to limit the more unsavory parts of overtourism. For example, in recent years they’ve banned tours of sex workers’ windows. In 2021 they considered specific laws regarding the purchase of marijuana in its famous coffee shops. And just last year they started telling certain demographics of tourists to stay away from their fair city.

a canal with boats and buildings in the backgroundHowever decreasing the lure of sex and the number of tourists who are under the influence is only part of the problem. Amsterdam had 14.6 million visitors who stayed in hotels and other short-term accommodations in 2022. They had 20.665 million in 2023. Residents and tourists alike have said they hate the crowds.  And city officials have said enough is enough. So they’re updating the laws.

The new rules

No new hotels

According to the city’s new law, no more new hotels can be constructed in Amsterdam. If an established hotel closes, a new one can take its place, but only with approval and with certain caveats (i.e. it’s more modern or sustainable, it doesn’t exceed the number of beds of the old hotel, etc.)

Hotels that had already been approved for construction but haven’t yet been built will be grandfathered in.

Cap on overnight guests

Amsterdam will also limit the number of overnight guests to 20 million per year. That’s 665,000 less than 2023, and, if one were to believe the numbers would continue to increase each year, 20 mil is most likely a few to several million less than how many would actually WANT to visit in 2024 and beyond.

Cut on number of river cruises reports that the number of river cruises that enter the city will also be cut:

In 2023, around 2,300 vessels docked in the city. By 2028, the local government wants that figure reduced to 1,150.

This restriction would slash the number of tourists visiting Amsterdam by about 271,000, according to national news site Dutch News.

Cruises are particularly disruptive during the spring bulb season when some 1,000 of them anchor in Amsterdam, city finance chief Hester van Buren told Dutch News.

Increased tourist tax

This had already been decided in 2023, but Amsterdam increased their tourist tax from 7% to 12.5%, making it the highest tourist tax in Europe.

How does this affect you?

Amsterdam is still going to be crowded. If it’s on your bucket list to visit, it’s probably a good idea to book your stay as far ahead of time as possible, before the city reaches the annual cap of visitors.

Feature Photo (cropped): faungg’s photos / flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED

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1 comment

ACinCLT April 22, 2024 - 2:22 pm

Curious how they will enforce the cap on number of visitors. It is one thing to record people arriving from international locations that have to clear immigration and customs but, as you know, the borders are open across Europe (with rare exceptions) so anyone could fly, drive or arrive by train without there being any official count. Also, curious what happens when they hit the limit. Will KLM and other airlines not be allowed to sell any more tickets that terminate in Amsterdam? What about hotels – can they not accept additional guests. This has all the markings of “feel good” legislation that is practically unenforceable. Now the tax increase and limits on river cruises are real things that can be done (like Venice prohibiting cruise ships and certain cities in the US, Charleston SC for one, no longer serving as a cruise ship port) but a cap on visitors just doesn’t sound very practical.


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