Amsterdam has long wanted to keep ‘nuisance’ tourists away. First, it banned new hotels and now, it plans to ban cruises


Amsterdam is fed up with its tourist deluge.

The Dutch city attracts all types of visitors—whether they’re coming to party or visit tulip fields— but in recent years has become a victim of overtourism and has tried to cap its number of tourists.

Last year’s “Stay Away” campaign was part of its efforts to discourage travelers from tainting Amsterdam with their “nuisance,” as Deputy Mayor Sofyan Mbarki put it. 

Now Amsterdam is planning to crack down on cruise ships too.

The Dutch capital city plans to limit cruise ships in its harbor to just 100 in 2026, down from 190 currently, before banning them outright by 2035, Amsterdam’s council announced last week. It added that it was part of a raft of measures to put a lid on tourism and “to counteract nuisance.”  

“Sea cruises are polluting and cause crowds and emissions in the city,” the council said in its release. “We want Amsterdam to be clean, liveable and sustainable.”

Amsterdam’s City Council didn’t immediately return Fortune’s request for comment.

Tourists visiting the city take boat trips on the canals in Amsterdam
Tourists visiting the city take boat trips on the canals in Amsterdam.

Ozgen Besli—Anadolu/Getty Images

Cracking down on overtourism

The move to ban inbound cruises has been in the works for a while. Amsterdam wanted to redirect cruise liners to terminals outside the main city area as they brought tourists who crowded the streets. In 2022, the city’s mayor blamed cruise tourists for swarming the city but doing little for it. 

The record-high tourist numbers, up from 12.6 million in 2019 to 15.1 million in 2023, have spurred the crackdown. This spike in visitors has overwhelmed the city’s infrastructure, such as its public transport networks and quaint streets.  

Amsterdam is home to some of the most picturesque water canals and museums. But over the years, it’s gained the reputation of a party city—one it’s trying to distance itself from. The Dutch capital has tightened rules on smoking weed, especially in its red-light district, and banned new hotels from being built earlier this year. 

Cruises aren’t the main avenue to enter Amsterdam, but they’re certainly among the most polluting forms of it. One cruise, carrying thousands of passengers at once, can result in the same levels of emissions per day as 30,000 trucks, a 2021 study found. 

For similar reasons, European cities such as Dubrovnik and Santorini have also capped cruise ship numbers. Venice has enacted a “tourist tax” of €5 ($5.4) to help fight overtourism.

In addition to cutting cruise emissions, Amsterdam will require boats to only shore power, an alternative to the existing diesel fuel that reduces pollution, by 2027. It’s also looking to cut the number of river cruises in its waters.

All the efforts to restrict tourism could prove counterproductive for Amsterdam as it stands to lose between €46 million ($50 million) and €103 million ($111 million) in revenue, Bloomberg reported. The City Council recognizes this but thinks it “cannot afford to sit back and wait for things to get worse.”

“If we don’t do this now, we will become less attractive as a city for people and companies. And that will cost more money in the long run,” a council spokesperson told the outlet.  

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