In empty Amsterdam, reconsider tourism

Support for prostitutes and cafe owners was echoed in several interviews with Amsterdam residents, including Roy Van Kempen, a 31-year-old marketing manager who has lived in Amsterdam since 2008.

“Paris has the Eiffel Tower, and we have the Red Light District and this idea that anything is possible in Amsterdam. And I would like it to stay that way, actually, ”he said.

But Irina, Mr Helms, Mr Van Kempen and half a dozen other Amsterdam residents interviewed agreed that the city center has a major problem: a tourist ‘monoculture’ has taken hold and locals are being driven out. . Businesses and services that once catered to locals – high-quality bakeries, butchers, etc. spread, mainly to tourists. Meanwhile, rising house prices – due, in part, to the rise of Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms – has made the city center unaffordable for many locals.

This monoculture has been in the spotlight over the past year, Ms Udo said, adding that she had been struck by the feeling of desertion from the city center during the pandemic, especially compared to others. parts of Amsterdam. “It was a real eye opener,” she said. “There aren’t enough people living and working there to bring life back to the neighborhood when visitors are gone. “

Along with the restrictions proposed by the mayor’s office, city officials and some residents have also tried softer approaches to tackling tourism-related issues, some of which were successfully rolled out before the pandemic.

A critical strategy has been to try to reach visitors before they even arrive. Amsterdam’s Enjoy and Respect campaign, launched in 2018, targeted the main source of behavior problems – Dutch and British men aged 18-34 – with messages about the fines they could incur for urinating on the streets , throwing garbage or getting drunk. in public spaces. Subsequent investigation showed that the messages had reached at least part of this audience, but measuring the effectiveness of the campaign proved to be a challenge.

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