Despite Amsterdam's Intentions to Curb Cruising, No Changes Right Now

Among its many efforts to control soaring tourism numbers, the Amsterdam City Council in the Netherlands wants cruise ships to stop operating from the city's downtown cruise terminal. That said, nothing is changing immediately: Cruises that call or turnaround at Amsterdam this summer are operating as planned. But, the council’s latest move comes as that governing body has taken multiple steps designed to reduce increased visitation, particularly group tourism such as from tours, cruises and even private groups. The council cited its desire for enhanced sustainability and improved “livability” for local residents by 2035.

The operator of Amsterdam’s downtown cruise terminal, the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam (PTA), issued this statement: “We have taken note of the council’s call that they do not see any room for sea cruises in the city of the future at the current location. There is no administrative response or proposal yet on how to address this call. There is certainly not an immediate closure of the terminal. We continue our business as usual.”

CLIA's Perspective

Travel Agent also asked Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry’s global trade association, for comment. We received this statement:

"We are aware of the media reports about the future of cruise in Amsterdam. As the port has publicly stated, cruise ships have not been banned from Amsterdam. Furthermore, the port and Passenger Terminal Amsterdam have already pledged to undertake investments worth millions of Euros in port infrastructure and shore-side electricity for the long-term. There have been discussions on its relocation outside the city center, which started back in 2016 and which are still ongoing.

“We are working with the authorities to accommodate the views expressed by council members while continuing to support the communities that benefit from cruise tourism. Of the more than 21 million visitors that Amsterdam receives each year, around 1 percent arrive by cruise ship, with cruise tourism contributing around 105 million Euros to the city annually.”

The Council's Vision

The Amsterdam City Council's tourism policy statement on its official website explains its overall philosophy about tourism. At the end of that policy, the council also has a link to its "Vision Statement," which says:

“There’s less and less room in the city for the type of tourism that draws large groups of visitors. To curb overtourism, we are not distinguishing between organized group trips, cruise passengers visiting the city in droves and coaches or FlixBuses dropping off loads of visitors in our city center. By 2035, there will be much less of all of this. This doesn’t mean we won’t welcome school trips or conference visitors to our city, but we will talk to the travel sector about limiting private group bookings. To this end, we aim to decrease and spread out the number of coaches, cruises and other facilitators in the city and to discuss this with regional stakeholders.”

Separately, the city has undertaken other moves to curb crowding in certain areas of the city and enhance the quality of life for locals.

Again, right now cruise operations at Amsterdam's center city cruise terminal are normal —with no immediate changes. Ocean and river cruises have not been impacted. We'll post any further updates here.  

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