Amsterdam plans increase on tourist tax to decrease hard-partying tourists

A video wall shows how men take a look inside a brothel at Red Light Secrets, the first Museum of Prostitution in Amsterdam, on January 31, 2014. City officials want to decrease the number of tourists who come to the city for its liberal drug and sex policies. Photo by Koen Van Weel/EPA EPA

Sept. 12 (UPI) — Amsterdam is planning on raising its tourist tax by an extra 10 euros a night in order to limit the number of people coming to the city for weekends of debauchery, in hopes of encouraging high-spending tourists.

“We need more people who actually spend money in the city,” Udo Kock, the city councillor responsible for finance, told Dutch newspaper Het Parool. “We would prefer people who stay a couple of nights, visit museums, have lavish meals at restaurants, to people who pop over for a weekend eating falafel while sauntering around the red-light district.”

Amsterdam tourists staying in the city center currently pay a 5 percent tax for their room — a rate that will increase to 6 percent in 2018, reported the Guardian.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Amsterdam has seen its popularity only grow in the last few years. Approximately 17 million people visited the city last year, which is a 15 percent increase from 2011. And Kock said the number will only get higher.

“The number of visitors will grow from 17 million to 23 million in the coming years and that means more cleaning and a greater police presence in the streets,” he said. “And I want Amsterdammers to profit from the success of the city.”

City planners and residents worry that the large numbers of tourists puts a strain on city resources and raises rents for locals. And Kock isn’t the only local politician to propose making tourists pay a few more euros to remedy the problem.

In May, Amsterdam Alderman Abdeluheb Choho proposed increasing the tourist tax in the city from 5 percent to 15 percent, according to the NL Times.

But others have offered different approaches, including encouraging repeat visitors to the city to explore areas that are off the beaten path.

Frans van der Avert, the chief executive of Amsterdam Marketing, is in charge of coming up with ways to get tourists out to the lesser known Amsterdam.

“When you look at the foreign visitors, half of them are here for the first time,” he told Skift.” I don’t bother them with these new neighborhoods because we know that they want to see the Van Gogh and the canals and they go to the Anne Frank House, but when you are here for the second or the third or the fourth or the fifth time, you think ‘Oh.'”

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