A POPULAR British holiday destination has announced a change that will affect thousands of tourists after locals described it as a “plague of locusts”.
Amsterdam has decided to ban cruise ships from the city center in a bid to curb tourist crowds and reduce pollution.
The announcement came after the Dutch capital launched its “Stay Away” campaign in March to discourage people – particularly young British men – from choosing the city as a party destination.
In February, the city council also banned people from smoking cannabis on the streets of the city’s famous red-light district and ordered bars and restaurants to close at 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
The centre-right D66 party said cruises were at odds with its sustainability aspirations as the ban will result in the closure of the city’s central terminal on the IJ river near Amsterdam Central Station.
D66 politician Ilana Rooderkerk, who compared cruise ship passengers to a “locust plague” in an opinion piece last month, said Amsterdam would “sail better” without cruise ships.
“Cruise ships in the city center also do not fit the task of fighting mass tourism,” she added on Twitter.
Her party also said plans to build a new bridge between Amsterdam’s South and Noord districts were impossible if cruise ships continued to dock in the city centre.
Alternative cruise ship locations around Amsterdam have been considered, however there are currently no final decisions on where to place them.
Mayor Femke Halsema also complained about cruise passengers in an interview with Dutch media in November.
She said they were of no benefit to city residents because they were only there “a few hours”, ate at “international brands” and had “little time” to visit museums.
And last year, Halsema told Bloomberg: “Amsterdam receives 22 million tourists every year and that’s a bit too much.”
“It’s not a form of tourism that we welcome or dislike – it’s a behavior. What we do not welcome are people who come here for vacations for moral reasons.”
In a video produced for the Stay Away campaign in March, two officers can be seen arresting a drunk man while warning him not to visit the city for a “chaotic night”.
It ends with: “So you’re coming to Amsterdam for a messy night? Stay away.”
The city council said it would continue to welcome visitors to the city, but that this campaign was specifically aimed at “pesky tourists who want to visit Amsterdam to let off steam”.
They said the campaign is aimed at British men aged 18-35 – but that there are plans to expand it to other European countries.
People searching for “bachelorette party amsterdam”, “cheap hotel amsterdam” and “pub crawl amsterdam” will see warning ads.
But Amsterdam isn’t the first European city to ban cruises from its city center, as Venice enacted a cruise ban in April 2021.
This comes after Mallorca requested a ban on all cruise ship arrivals in 2020.