Home » Amsterdam bans new hotels with over 42K rooms already available in fight against mass tourism

Amsterdam bans new hotels with over 42K rooms already available in fight against mass tourism

Amsterdam has banned the construction of new hotels as part of their latest attempt to rein in the number of rowdy tourists visiting the Dutch capital each year.

“We want to make and keep the city livable for residents and visitors,” the City Council said in a statement.

This means no over-tourism, no new hotels, and no more than 20 million hotel overnight stays by tourists per year, the local government added.

In enacting the ban on the construction of new hotels, the Dutch capital is hoping to curb excessive tourism. AFP via Getty Images

Under the new rules, building a new hotel in Amsterdam will only be allowed when another hotel closes, and only if the total number of guestrooms in the city does not increase as a result of the new construction. 

The new accommodation will also be required to be more sustainable.

Mayor Femke Halsema said there would be some exceptions to the policy, noting that the rule won’t apply to new hotels — 26 in total — that have already secured a permit.

The new ban is largely symbolic, with only three proposals for new hotels meeting the city’s already strict requirements since 2017, the New York Times reported.

In 2019, there were 25.2 million hotel stays in Amsterdam. That number was far exceeded by visitors last year, not taking into account Airbnbs and daytrippers disembarking from cruise ships, city data revealed.

In total, Amsterdam has nearly 42,000 hotel rooms that can accommodate more than 92,000 guests, according to Statistics Netherlands, representing about 28% of the 150,000 hotel rooms across the country.

City officials are even pushing to discourage sex and drug-related tourism in Amsterdam’s world-renowned red light district. oriolegin11 – stock.adobe.com

But some experts have said the ban won’t have a very big effect.

Ko Koens, a professor of new urban tourism at Inholland University Rotterdam, told the Times it won’t be easy to keep visitors away from the popular tourist hub known for its canals, museums, and decadent nightlife. 

“There are no simple solutions. It’s super complex,” Koens said.

In March, the city launched an ad campaign targeting British men aged 18 to 35 urging them to “stay away” from the city. In July Amsterdam announced it would bar cruise ships from docking in the city center.

Stricter rules about smoking marijuana have also been implemented, in addition to a ban on new tourist shops and even a push to discourage sex and drug-related tourism in its world-renowned red light district.

Amsterdam isn’t the only European destination scrambling to reclaim its city from the clutches of mass tourism. 

Visitors to the southern Spanish city Seville may soon have to cough up a fee to see the Plaza de España square, which has been falling apart from swarms of tourists and illegal vendors.

More than 25 million people stayed overnight in Amsterdam last year, not including Airbnbs and daytrippers disembarking from cruise ships. AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Venice banned large tourist groups in 2024 to “protect” the historic sinking city by curbing congestion in its narrow streets and waterways.

Further south in the Canary Islands, residents have protests and strikes planned this weekend to fight against overtourism.

Closer to home, lawmakers in Hawaii proposed a $25 climate tax on tourists who visit the state to combat what they claim is an assault on the area’s natural resources.