Cities are dying from tourism

By | Category: Travel news

This was the claim made by Frans van der Avert at the World Tourism Forum in the Swiss city of Lucerne last week.

As chief executive of Amsterdam Marketing, he claims that cities are dying because no-one will living in the historic centres of cities anymore. This isn’t a new claim. Many locals in Venice have been saying for some time that tourism is having a detrimental effect there and tourism must be managed better.

He also claimed that Amsterdam does not spend a euro on marketing the city anymore because it doesn’t want more people of the type that it gets. What Amsterdam does want is more people “who are interested in the city, not who want it as a backdrop for a party.”

He blames the problem on low cost airlines like Ryanair and easyJet and singled out Ryanair passengers as being “the loudest” claiming that passengers on airlines like these have no respect for the character of a city.

He also criticised Airbnb saying that it was “a billion-dollar company that is destroying cities.” The reason for that claim is due to the number of rentals that are signed up to the company. Like many other cities in the world, speculators and investors have moved in and bought suitable properties making it expensive for locals to continue to live there. In particular, van der Avert pointed out that the canal district of Amsterdam was hard hit.

I don’t think that I have ever heard a tourism executive before saying quite so vehemently that tourism was a problem.  He claims that Amsterdam Marketing works for residents, businesses and visitors and that there has to be a balance. Without saying so, he obviously believes that, at the moment, there is an imbalance. He went on to say, “When you say to local people ‘Tourism is about jobs’ they say ‘I don’t care. They are voters and they say ‘The visitors have to go.”

How has Amsterdam reacted to this imbalance? He says seventy measures have been introduced to deal with tourism overcrowding. The cruise terminal in Amsterdam has been closed, no more hotels are allowed to be built and restrictions have been placed on owners of property who rent it on Airbnb.

Only time will tell if this is sufficient.

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