Not Wanted Here

Following the anti-tourist demonstrations in Majorca last week comes this new outburst of hatred for tourists — this time, sadly, in one of my favorite cities in the whole world: Amsterdam.

AMSTERDAM has launched a city centre crackdown against holidaymakers as anti-tourism riots gather pace across Europe.
Souvenir shops and bicycle hire, as well as fast food outlets boasting ice-creams, waffles and cheese, have now been blocked from opening in the Dutch city.
Officials say the shutdown is in a bid to stop “mass tourism” ruining Amsterdam’s “magnificent streets”.
It is the latest city to hit back at holidaymakers, with rioters and protesters intimidating tourists in Spain and Italy claiming they are ruining the country.
Mayor of Amsterdam, Kajsa Ollongren, said: “Tourists are very welcome, but we want to avoid mass tourism taking over our magnificent streets, canals and neighbourhoods.”

Ms Ollongren added: “We want to make sure the city centre remains attractive and liveable for the residents of Amsterdam.”

Let’s be honest, here. “Mass tourism” is a euphemism for “masses of drunken foreigners, especially Brits” because like Marbella and Ibiza, Amsterdam has become a destination — this time for bachelor parties — with ultra-cheap airfares and ferry fares making it less expensive, in many cases, for partygoers to travel there than to, say, hire a bus to take the party from Manchester to Margate. And with the high cost of hotel rooms in Amsterdam, the drunks don’t stay overnight — at least, not in hotel rooms: they simply drink themselves into a stupor, pass out in the streets and parks (Amsterdam has a very tolerant police force), and then catch the morning flight back to Britain, severely hungover (or still drunk). Here’s an example — and imagine if this happened at your favorite restaurant:

So I can appreciate the Amsterdam government’s point. Like the Balearic Islands, there has to be a point where you draw the line and say, as the mayor did: we’re going to put our residents first. And for those who don’t know this, Amsterdam, unlike tourist meccas such as Paris or London, is actually a tiny city: you can walk it flat in three days — I have — and pretty much see all the sights (unless you’re an art aficionado and spend hours in the Rijksmuseum, as I also have). So yes, it’s easy for the city of Amsterdam to be swamped and overwhelmed by tourists — more tourists than they’ve normally had to deal with in the past — and especially by tourists who act like the foul slobs above instead of like well-mannered guests.

And let’s be clear about this: if the wonderful, civilized and tolerant Dutch people are getting pissed off about these invasions, then things have really deteriorated.

I’m sad about this because in the past I’ve tried constantly to be the absolute antithesis of the above-mentioned unspeakables: I’m quiet, try to fit in by acting like a local, eat the local foods and in general, be a traveler more than a tourist. In other words, I’ve always been aware that I’m not a local, and there under sufferance. But thanks to the bad behavior of some revolting louts, it looks like I’m going to be caught in whatever net the various tourist cities erect to preserve their sanity.

Which sucks.

I love to travel, and it pains me to think that one of my great pleasures in life is going to be restricted because of the baleful outcome of the coarsening of Western society.


Update: I forgot to include the official anthem of Amsterdam. (Okay, it isn’t; but it should be.)

24 comments

  1. Easy quiet fix there, Kim, just push the drunks into the many canals and let the bicycle dredging barges pick them up the next day along with the drowned bicycles, heh, heh.

  2. I loved Netherlands, and I loved Amsterdam. I was annoyed when I discovered I was about a year late to visit the single largest exhibition of Hieronymus Bosch paintings, which had taken place almost exactly the year before.

    I hope to go back not as an engineer but as a “Tourist” and to have and take the time to see the city properly, and visit the Hague, and graze my way through the decadent breakfast buffet at the Hotel Van der Valk.

  3. Amsterdam should build a wall and charge admission to non-citizens. Wristbands with built-in GPS trackers could be mandatory, or just make sure the admission charge is high enough to keep out the riffraff.

      1. Yeah, it would stink for the polite visitors, but from the perspective of the Amsterdammers (do they have a name for themselves?), it’s probably the simplest solution that wouldn’t reduce their tourism revenue.

        An alternative might be a waiting list and a behavior record. Any tourist previously cited for public intoxication or rowdy behavior is simply barred from future visits. That would increase the costs to the city though.

  4. I moved to South Florida in the early seventies. The Fort Lauderdale Beach strip cycles thru a love/hate relationship with spring breakers. We have gone thru three or four cycles in the forty-five years I’ve been here. At first, the locals want the spring breakers to come and spend their money. After a few years of drunken partying, the city and it’s merchants grow sour and tell the spring breakers to stay away. They are no longer welcome. Again, after a few years, the locals begin to miss the revenue stream and invite the spring breakers back and the cycle repeats. Maybe Europe will be similar.

    1. To be fair, the drunken Brits are something the Amsterdam city council can do something about, the muslim hordes are out of their control and forced on them by the national government and the EU (but I repeat myself, the Dutch national government is little more than an executing arm of the EU by now).

      Don’t think the majority of the Dutch population wants either, we don’t. But our political upper class blatantly ignores the electorate apart from making noises at election time, making promises they known full well they’ll break at first opportunity and blame on “the EU” (which the general population would also withdraw from if they could).

  5. Never understood people going to a foreign country and living down to stereotype. Wife and I spent two weeks in Italy for her (mumble)th birthday and everyone was very nice, I think largely because I made a point of saying grazie instead of thank you. No matter how badly mispronounced, they appreciated the effort.

    1. Had a similar experience in Taiwan. I accompanied my best friend there (he’d married a Taiwanese girl and they were bringing their son to meet the grandparents). Evidently I impressed a few people with my attitude of ‘try anything, at least once!’. Even though my Chinese is limited to ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, and ‘where’s the bathroom?’.

  6. I got to spend a full day in Amsterdam about 2 years ago (was there for a job interview. Didn’t get the job. Too American I guess). Beautiful city.

    I can see why those who live there wish to keep the cads and louts out.

    It seems that the steps they are taking are the sort to preserve what you (and I) like about different places–preventing chain or copy cat restaurants, disallowing new hotels etc. rather than just banning tourism in general.

    Frankly I approve of this sort of city level management. I don’t think it should be done on a national scale, but from the article:

    “”” New hotels have been banned in the old town and private people who want to rent rooms to tourists, including Airbnb, are obliged to notify the council.”””

    So the 87 story Marriot gets built out by Shitozopol, and those wanting American style hotel rooms can stay there and take the train in. Those willing to live a more European lifestyle can get more European rooms in the city, and there will be a mix in between.

  7. In the 90’s the German heroin holiday makers were the worst offenders. There are not many urban areas in Europe that I want to visit again. In London one night I got turned around near the Apple Market and entered Muzzistan (to my complete surprise).

  8. I’d think the problem is mentioned: Tolerant Police.
    I’d guess that other drunk-tourist towns have had these same problems. What does Daytona Beach do? or South Padre Island? Tijuana?
    I assume that Luxor, the Holy Lands, and Niagara Falls have dealt with masses of visitors, but maybe they’re bad examples as we’re talking about DRUNK visitors here.

    Why are these knobs visiting Amsterdam? Kim mentions airfare, but there has to be other reasons? Cheap booze? drugs? girls? Attractions? Weather? Could this have happened before EU or would passports have been needed?
    Still, this feels like a weird version of xenophobia.

    1. As a native Floridian full of hatred for tourists and Yankees: this state should make “Come on vacation, leave on probation” the offical motto.

      Daytona Beach PD will wreck you if you don’t follow their directions, and the judges will laugh at you when you claim police brutality.

  9. That picture! Made me think of something similar a few years ago when Rachel Lucas linked to a Zombie post about a bunch of scrotes in San Francisco declaring a ‘Naked Day’ and walking around this one neighborhood with their shame exposed to passersby. My idea was to warn the residents to visit relatives or close all the doors and windows, and declare a ‘Honey Festival’, which by complete coincidence is on the same date as ‘Naked Day’. Bell 212s (making that twin rotor ‘whop whop’ sound) carrying sling loads of beehives would then drop their loads on open areas of the street.

    All sorts of problems with that plan; too indiscriminate, not selective enough.

  10. Living near Amsterdam (and having worked there for over a decade) I can provide some perspective:

    It’s not intended to drive tourists away as much as to preserve the atmosphere that exists and not have every single building turned into a shop selling cheap plastic souvenirs or shoddy fast food to tourists.

    This is a problem that Amsterdam has been suffering from for years, and it’s past time something was done to stop it getting worse.
    It coincides with efforts to clean up the canals, clean up the red light district (mostly reducing the amount of human trafficking and drugs related crimes, the changeover to legally run brothels and related businesses is well under way).

    In all, it might make some tourists feel unwelcome, but are druggies, drunks, and men just looking for quick cheap sex for a night really the tourists you want as a city?
    Or do you want people who appreciate the architecture, the restaurants and museums, and better hotels than a tiny closet at the lowest possible rate?

    1. And a big “welcome back” to you too, jw.
      All cogent points, especially about the stores selling cheap tat like plastic windmills and such.
      Newport RI, once one of the most atmospheric and charming towns in the U.S. (and one of my favorite places to visit), allowed itself to become just another tourist stop several years ago, and I wouldn’t go back there now for anything.

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