Inundated with tourists, Amsterdam wants cruise ships to leave the city center – News Block

Amsterdam wants to move a cruise terminal out of the heart of the historic capital city as the latest step in its ongoing battle against pollution and the hordes of tourists clogging its narrow, cobbled streets.

The Dutch capital is one of many picturesque European cities, from Rome to Venice to Paris, struggling to manage visitor numbers that are on the rise again after lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.

Amsterdam city councilors voted Thursday in favor of a motion calling on the city to move the terminal from its current location near the central train station.

“The council has made a clear decision that the cruise (terminal) must leave the city,” Ilana Rooderkerk, leader of the centrist D66 party in Amsterdam, told The Associated Press in an email Friday.

“The Amsterdam municipal executive is now going to work on how to implement it. In any case, as far as we are concerned, the big ships no longer dock in the city center of Amsterdam.”

Dick de Graaff, director of Cruise Port Amsterdam, which operates the terminal in the city center, told the AP that the company had taken note of the vote and is awaiting the next move from the municipality.

People gather in the Red Light District of Amsterdam.
Tourists congregate in the red light district of Amsterdam in March 2019. (Peter Dejong/The Associated Press)

“There is no immediate closure of the terminal. The council’s call is to relocate the terminal, and we await a follow-up from the council on the investigations,” he wrote in an emailed response.

De Graaff said the Amsterdam terminal expects 114 ships to stop there this year and 130 next year.

The vote is the latest step in the Dutch capital’s long campaign to reduce the impact of tourism. Other measures include banning people from smoking weed in the narrow streets of its red-light district and a proposal to remove many of the windows where scantily clad prostitutes stand out of the city center.

Fight against nuisance tourism

Earlier this year, Amsterdam even launched a campaign titled “Stay Away” against what it described as nuisance tourism.

“Visitors will still be welcome, but not if they misbehave and cause a nuisance. In that case, we as a city will say: better not, stay away,” Deputy Mayor Sofyan Mbarki said in a statement at the time.

Signs in Amsterdam encourage tourists not to buy drugs or consume alcohol on the streets.
Street signs with ‘Geen alcohol op straat’ (No alcohol on the street) and ‘Don’t buy drugs from street dealers. It’s illegal’ are displayed in Amsterdam in April 2023 after the city launched a campaign called ‘Stay Away’ which aims to discourage tourists from visiting just to party and consume alcohol or drugs. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

For Rooderkerk, banning cruises is about more than just limiting tourism.

“The polluting cruise ship is not in line with our city’s sustainable ambitions,” he tweeted after the vote.

She said the towering cruise ships sailing to Amsterdam are also preventing the construction of a second bridge over the waterway to link the city with its fast-growing northern suburbs.

Cruises are not the only mode of transport facing restrictions in Amsterdam. The national government has also announced plans to reduce the number of flights at Schiphol Airport, the busy aviation hub that services the city.

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