When I moved back from Amsterdam, I wrote an article called "Dutch People Are Dicks. Here’s Why Americans Should Try It." Contrary to the expletive, the piece skewed positive, exploring how a culture of what some might call "brutal honesty" in the Netherlands led to more exciting and meaningful connections. But during my time there, the government was dealing with issues of over-tourism, undoubtedly due to the charming nature of these brutally honest Dutchies, as well as -- of course -- beautiful architecture and rich history. Oh, and drug tourism.
Unfortunately, this buildup of over-tourism, and a slew of government efforts (more on that later), has led to what I'm not very pleased to report today: Starting next year, Amsterdam will have the highest tourism tax in Europe, according to a report by CNN.
Now, in addition to the current 7% tax put on hotel rates, each tourist will have to pay about €3 (about $3 USD) per night. Do note that children under 16 are exempt and those staying on campsites will only pay €1 per night. Though camping is not the first nor 10th most common recreational activity I saw visitors participating in when I lived there. Most people want to stay in places near the city center to be near gorgeous buildings and weed.
European Tourism Association's director of policy, Tim Fairhurt, told CNN that "you won’t be exempt from the fine if you’re booking a night in an Airbnb." He said the existing tax for Airbnb rentals will be raised to 10% of the nightly rate.
When you navigate through Amsterdam, especially via bike, the overcrowding is disturbingly apparent. Your measly bike bell is hardly distinguishable over a roar of a hundred different accents screaming "stroopwafels." The city center is exceptionally packed, and has become both a nuisance and a safety hazard to travel through.
One of the aforementioned government efforts that comes to mind is the ban on Red Light District tours, which will start on the first of January 2020. The decision to ban tours in order to reduce overcrowding and increase respect towards sex workers was extremely controversial. Even sex workers had a problem with the restriction, in part because those tours actually educate people on the proper ways to behave in those complicated environments.
Amsterdam is not alone in this struggle. The combatting of over-tourism is now a European trend; It's now illegal to sit on the Spanish Steps in Rome, for example. But this recent tax certainly takes the cake, so if you're clutching your wallet in anguish right now, maybe check the most underrated countries to visit right now. Or staycation with your cat.