City center of Amsterdam in 2014 and 2020. Image: Amaury Miller.
Mayor Femke Halsema has noticed how few people actually live in the city center now that tourist flows have virtually dried up.she tells Het Parole The corona crisis has shown that parts of Amsterdam have become dependent on visitors. While she cannot call the crisis an opportunity, it does not justify the suffering caused by the virus, but stresses the need to reduce the number of tourists.
This clear ambition forms the basis for a series of measures designed to make the city center more livable. They are being introduced on the advice of city planner Zef Hemel, who has been commissioned by the mayor to formulate a vision for the future of the city. He believes the mayor needs to take control of the whole and reduce tourist numbers immediately, rather than allowing tourism to spread or just manage the problem.
Halsema said the measures will be rigorous and far-reaching. “I’ve yet to meet an Amsterdammer who doesn’t think it’s been too crowded in the last few years.”
She mainly uses existing resources for new uses. For example, the council is looking at ways to buy inner-city properties with the help of local improvement organisations, such as NV Zeedijk and Stadsgoed NV. As an owner, you decide which shops and cafes can occupy your building. Market prices are so high that the organization has missed out on buying opportunities in recent years, but with the city’s active support, this may change.
Halsema also wants the central government to introduce regulations that allow cities to intervene in the retail sector. Parts of Amsterdam can already ban new tourist shops, but this is not enough to reduce the city’s dependence on tourism. Laws could be changed to stop alcohol sales by supermarkets, she said.
Halsema also wants shops, bars and restaurants to cater primarily to locals, so tourism no longer dominates the streets. She plans to speak with hoteliers and property owners to make them aware of their responsibility to make Amsterdam a livable city. “It’s also to their advantage,” she says. “Look at Venice. Too many tourists can turn the city into a shadow of what it used to be.”
Another idea is to focus more on neighborhoods and associate them with specific themes. City marketing agency Amsterdam&Partners will work with retailers associations to achieve this.
“It would be great if Leidseplein and the surrounding area became the cultural center of Amsterdam,” says Halsema. Giving the district its own identity will make locals more aware of the shops, restaurants and cultural venues on their doorstep. For example, many Jewish organizations and venues around Mr. Visserplein have already united to form the Jewish Cultural Quarter.
Halsema also says plans to close Wallen’s brothel and open a brothel in its place are progressing rapidly. When sex workers are allowed to resume business in September, it will become clear whether the pandemic has accelerated this process.
https://www.parool.nl/english/amsterdam-set-to-reduce-the-impact-of-tourism~b4e59d10/ Amsterdam set to reduce tourism impact