A majority of the parties in the Tweede Kamer – the lower house of Dutch parliament – have called on the government to reduce the strain caused by massive tourism. Last year 19 million tourists stayed in the Netherlands and according to the NOS, at the current rate of growth that number could rocket to 42 million annual visitors in 2030.
In September, the Council for the Living Environment published an advisory report warning that increasing tourism in the Netherlands is “harmful to the living environment and society.” The council writes that current tourism policy primarily focuses on increasing revenue, but “tourism is not only an economic interest, it also influences accessibility and the use of public space, real estate, nature and the environment.” The council insists central government control is necessary to “find a good balance between the economic benefit on the one hand and the carrying capacity of the living environment and the support among residents on the other.”
Members of the CDA, VVD, D66, and PvdA all reportedly claim that there is too little government attention to tourism. SP Member of Parliament Frank Futselaar says to NOS, “You see that there are a lot of tourists in a number of places in the Netherlands. In addition, there are other regions that would like a lot more tourists. But there is no central policy.”
NOS writes that at the central government, “only a few civil servants are full-time busy with tourism.” In addition, the Netherlands Office of Tourism and Congresses (NBTC) has been historically committed to attracting as many tourists as possible to the Netherlands but has recently shifted focus to spreading tourists around the Netherlands rather than strictly into hotspots like Amsterdam.
NBTC receives around €8.5 million in annual subsidies but is also partly funded by parties which reportedly raises concerns regarding conflicts of interest. State Secretary Mona Keijzer of Economic Affairs tells NOS that the rules will be adjusted so that the NBTC is less financially dependent on market parties.
In their report, the Council for the Living Environment prescribes a “change of perspective” toward tourism involving the creation of a two-year strategy for all regions in the Netherlands stating “where and when expansion of tourism is pursued and what facilities must be realized for this…it also states where the expected increase in tourists is undesirable and with which instruments the number of tourists can be influenced, how they can be better spread, or how nuisance can be prevented.”