After Cannabis, why Amsterdam is banning cruise ships

After Cannabis, why Amsterdam is banning cruise ships

Amsterdam’s city council has voted to ban cruise ships in its latest attempt to curb mass tourism and pollution.

The vote is the latest step in the Dutch capital's long-running campaign to reduce the impact of tourists.

Amsterdam’s city council has voted to ban cruise ships in its latest attempt to curb mass tourism and pollution.

The main cruise terminal on the River IJ, which is adjacent to the city’s main train station, will close as a result of the ban.

The move is partly because attempts are being made to reduce the number of visitors to the Dutch capital.

Notably, the Dutch capital is one of the many picturesque European cities — from Rome to Venice to Paris — grappling with how to manage visitor numbers that are again soaring in the aftermath of shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Associated Press.

Amsterdam’s ban on cruise ships

Amsterdam is one of the biggest cruise ports in Europe, which annually welcomes 700,000 cruise passengers and hundreds of mega-ships. Other cruise ports in the nation include Rotterdam and IJmuiden.

However, the latest move comes in order to cut back on the inflow of tourists and reduce marine ollution from the giant vessels.

A statement from the centre-right party D66, which governs the city alongside the social democrats PvdA and environmentalists GroenLinks, claims that “polluting cruise ships are not in line with the sustainable ambitions of our city.” The liberal party also asserted that the proposed new bridge between the Noord district, the subject of current development initiatives, and the city’s historic southern section could not be constructed with cruise ships passing over it, reported The Guardian.

“A clear decision has been made by the council that the cruise (terminal) should leave the city,” Ilana Rooderkerk, leader of the centrist D66 party in Amsterdam, told AP in an email on Friday. “The municipal executive of Amsterdam is now going to work on how to implement it. In any case, as far as we are concerned, large ships no longer moor in the city centre of Amsterdam.”

Dick de Graaff, director of Cruise Port Amsterdam which operates the terminal in the city centre, told the news agency that the company had taken note of the vote and is awaiting the municipality’s next move. “There is no immediate closing of the terminal. The council’s call is to relocate the terminal – and we await a follow-up from the alderman on investigations,” he wrote in an email response.

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

The reduction of air pollution in Amsterdam is a major justification for eliminating cruise ships. One large cruise ship was discovered to have emitted the same amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in one day as 30,000 trucks, according to BBC which cited a 2021 study.

Other mooring locations outside of the city centre have been considered for a long time, but nothing has been decided.

Similar measures in Europe

Amsterdam is the most recent city in Europe to forbid cruise ships.

Venice banned allowing large ships to anchor in its historical district in 2021 after the damage to its lagoon prompted UNESCO to threaten to list the city on its endangered list. The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, recently declared that if she were elected again in May, she would restrict the number of cruise visitors to the city, according to The National News.

The Spanish city, which ranked as the worst cruise port for air pollution in Europe in research conducted by Transport and Environment last year, is also concerned about pollution.

The mayor of Marseille, France’s largest cruise port, has recently denounced cruise lines, saying their air pollution is “suffocating” the city.

Becoming a victim of own popularity

With 20 million tourists each year, some of whom are attracted by the city’s reputation as a party destination, Amsterdam has over time become a victim of its own popularity, reported BBC.

The capital of the Netherlands, which is renowned for its lax drug and sex regulations, has long been the subject of complaints from its citizens about becoming “unlivable.”

According to city hall, overtourism in Amsterdam’s historic district had gotten worse than the already severe annoyance of inebriated visitors’ nightly puking on 17th-century doorsteps and profuse urination in waterways, according to a report by The Guardian published in January 2020.

It became unsafe when 850,000 residents were squeezed into a maze of winding streets and passageways by more than 19 million tourists in 2018. Vera Al, of the finance and economic affairs department, told The Guardian, “At times there was a real safety concern.”

Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein, and other busy districts of the city also became too crowded to live in, and stores selling wooden tulips, vacuum-packed cheese, and cannabis seeds had taken the place of pharmacies, greengrocers, and hair salons in the historic neighbourhood.

New curbs to address over-tourism

The vote is the latest step in the Dutch capital’s long-running 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 move out of the city center many of the windows where scantily-clad prostitutes stand.

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

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

The city has also made initiatives to improve nightlife for young people. In order to cultivate the skills of “creative young people who want to organise something at night,” it has stated its intention to locate nightclub settings such as abandoned tunnels and garages.

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Region: Netherlands

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