‘Our hotels and museums are not busy at all now, attracting tourists with a focus on culture and culinary’

According to chairmen Tonko Grever (Amsterdam Museums Consultation) and Remco Groenhuijzen (Luxury Hotels of Amsterdam), the city should attract tourists in a different way. With a focus on culture and cooking e.g. And preferably without a high tourist tax.

Remco Groenhuijzen and Tonko Grever

A new city council will shape Amsterdam’s economy in the post-corona era. Part of this is to steer the number of (international) visitors in the right direction. Going back to the situation before the corona crisis is undesirable. The pressure from the large number of visitors, especially in inner city, was enormous. The crisis has ensured that the tourism debate in Amsterdam has taken on a whole new dynamic.

We call on the new city council to develop a long-term vision for a healthy visitor economy that enriches the city in a sustainable way. A strategy that recreates the connection between living, working and recreation in the city. A vision that extends beyond the four-year term.

The city needs a roadmap to ensure that it does not get stuck with new covid variants, but has a solid plan to keep the economy going. Businesses that organize events and people who order something benefit from predictability, whether it’s a conference, cruise, short trip or vacation.

Sustainable future

A long-term strategy for welcoming the respectful (international) visitor is crucial for an attractive city. We work hard for a sustainable future. For example, Cruise Port Amsterdam’s strategy is to impose a maximum number of ships on itself, and the hotel sector is one of the pioneers in banning plastics and reducing CO2 emissions.2-footprint. Use this information to profile Amsterdam. In addition, Amsterdam positions itself as a city for the cultural and culinary experience, creativity and conferences. We call them the 4 Cs.

Congress participants make a positive contribution to the city: they contribute to the knowledge enrichment of Amsterdam. In addition, Amsterdam is praised for freedom of speech, a great asset that we can be proud of. International conference organizers choose Amsterdam for it.

For other (international) visitors, Amsterdam should make more use of its cultural and culinary richness. When you adjust the city’s offerings, you also attract other visitors. Amsterdam has beautiful architecture, numerous museums, beautiful parks and an extensive selection of (top) restaurants. Highlight this wealth and see what you reap.

Distorted image

The worst-case scenario is that the PvdA, GroenLinks and D66 increase the tourist tax instead of formulating a coherent long-term policy. Day tourists return, Red Light District fills up again. It gives a bad image and also a distorted image. In ‘our business’ and the city is not busy at all. The Americans, an important part of the visitors, do not come, for example, because the war in Ukraine feels too close to them. In addition, the sky-high energy prices do not contribute to a visit to the city. Cruises do not dock, hotels are not booked, museums and theaters are not visited.

Congresses are booked years in advance. If the new city council starts turning the knobs on the tourist tax again, they will be held somewhere else. This will cost the city millions of dollars in revenue and job losses. There will be fewer cruise passengers if the tourist tax is increased, resulting in hundreds of polluting buses driving into the city. Hotel guests are valuable visitors to the city. They spend a lot on both culinary and cultural areas and in terms of expenses they even exceed day visitors. That is a maximum of 80,000 hotel guests a day, while in one day there are about 800,000 people in Amsterdam. An increase in the tourist tax is therefore not the solution to limit the pressure on the city. Try to spread the tourism and draw lessons from the Overijssel test, as it can be read in this newspaper from last Saturday.

Empty shops

We do not know what the next few years will look like. There is uncertainty about the further course of the pandemic, energy prices are rising and a devastating war is underway. What we do know is that a vague visitor policy is disastrous for the city due to the great coherence between the different sectors. If the museums do not run, the restaurant industry will not run. When cruises do not dock and conferences are canceled, hotel rooms are empty. Trams are not full and the shops are empty.

Our organizations, the visitors and certainly also the people of Amsterdam have an interest in a long-term strategy that is flexible and where the different sectors are interconnected. Because then you can quickly change if something changes. We gladly take our responsibility to contribute to this strategy in the interest of the city. We are happy to think with you from our expertise, invite you to a conversation and help Amsterdam, where possible, with the task that the city has.

Remco Groenhuijzen is chairman of Luxury Hotels of Amsterdam.

Tonko Grever is chairman of the Amsterdam Museums Consultation (OAM).  Picture

Tonko Grever is chairman of the Amsterdam Museums Consultation (OAM).

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