For the most part, Amsterdam has celebrated tourism. This encouragement is based on the idea that the money helps the economy. But, according to Quarizy, many tourists don’t spend money: they use apps to score budget deals and forgo hotels for more affordable Airbnbs. This trend has motivated the Amsterdam municipality to impose a tourist tax on holiday visitors. This tax aims to counter the effects of overtourism and disincentivize budget travellers. In fact, Amsterdam raised its basic tourist tax up to 7% at the beginning of this year.
Travel author Elizabeth Becker said the rising popularity of these taxes around the world suggests that governments are beginning to understand that when it comes to tourism, too much may be a bad thing. “It’s only in [the] last few years you have tourism taxes that are going to controlling tourism,” she said. This is because more governments are acknowledging that “there is no getting around the fact that there is a carrying capacity.” Many of these taxes not only want to drive down the number of holiday visitors, but also aim to attract a “lower impact, higher value traveler” who will spend money, Becker said.
On top of Amsterdam’s basic tourist tax, the city implemented a day tourist fee of €8 per person in January, according to Quarizy. Soon after Amsterdam imposed the tax, two cruise lines announced they would no longer stop at the city’s port. Additionally, budget hotels have experienced a threat to their survival due to the increasing tourist tax, according to KHN, a hospitality lobby group.
KHN spokesperson Jonatan Tsuff said to the Parool that the municipality’s plan to issue an additional flat tax per overnight stay will make Amsterdam unaffordable for tourists who don’t have much money. This flat tax will most likely range from €5 to €10 per guest. “We charge €20 to €30 for a bed or €80 for a room,” Tsuff, who owns a chain of budget hotels, said to Parool. “We can’t put up the prices and will have to pay as a company.”
No other European country charges a percentage and a flat fee, KHN chairman Jim Evers said, according to DutchNews.Nl. “That money does not go into a tourism strategy, or to make the city a better place to live, or to combat problems,” Evers said. “It gets swallowed up into the city’s general resources.” These budget hotels also feel angry that Airbnb is not having to pay up. Airbnb paid €17 million in tourist taxes to Amsterdam in 2017, which KHM said is nothing compared to the problems the company causes.
“Budget hotels won’t disaster but they will become three or four star operations,” Tsuff said to the Parool. “Amsterdam will become an elite city.”