Visitors wishing to head for the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam might soon be asked to pay 50 Euros (£45) for a passport to stay there for the night, and they could be able to visit an out-of-town ‘theme park’ consisting of a red light district, all-night bars, and cannabis ‘coffee shops’.
These ideas are being considered as a way to move tourism forward in the Netherlands city after Mayor Femke Halsema called for a re-think to protect the lives of residents.
Mayor Halsema has spoken out to say that she wants to improve the quality of life for those who live in the city and for years have had to put up with the hordes of rampaging tourists that flock because of Amsterdam’s reputation as a party city.
Of course, the city benefits from this tourism, and before the coronavirus pandemic Amsterdam welcomed nine million tourists and brought between three and 10 billion Euros in income.
However, a petition for more restrictions to be placed on the tourism industry received 27,000 signatures in a matter of days, leading to a public referendum on the issue.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought home the amount that the tourism money is important to the economy, but a think-tank discussing the future of tourism in the city called G10 reckons that the new ‘passports’ could help redress the economic decline without going back to the old ways.
The passport would consist of five 10 Euro vouchers for various cultural institutions in the city, and would eventually – after a trial period – become compulsory for anyone wishing to stay overnight in the city.
Ideally, this would discourage the hedonistic tourists who head for Amsterdam to take advantage of their liberal attitudes to certain things, but ensure that even if that is the reason for the visit, the tourists would be financially contributing to the city’s cultural institutions.
It would also regulate visitors, as the price could be put up to discourage people, or waived altogether to encourage visitors.
Another idea, brought forward by historian David de Boer at the University of Amsterdam, is to stop tourists from turning Amsterdam into a theme park by building a purpose-designed theme park outside the city for exactly that.
Mayor Halsema has already argued that sex workers should be moved out of the city centre to the outskirts, but de Boer wants the proposed site to include things like canals and gabled houses for an ‘Amsterdam experience’.
Whether or not any of this comes to fruition remains to be seen.