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Amsterdam takes increased aim at overtourism with new river cruise limit & hotel ban

The popular European city is taking drastic measures to stop overtourism by limiting the number of river cruises entering its waterways and halting new hotel construction on top of existing efforts against unruly tourists in Amsterdam.

The popular European city is taking drastic measures to stop overtourism by limiting the number of river cruises entering its waterways and halting new hotel construction on top of existing efforts against unruly tourists in Amsterdam.

The new Amsterdam City Council proposals would see 271,000 fewer annual tourists enter the Netherlands capital via river cruise and contain overnight visitors to 20 million travellers each year after a record 25.2 million overnight hotel stays in 2019 (Onderzoek en Statistiek).

For river cruising, it means to halve cruises to 1,150 voyages by 2028 after a record 2,300 ships visited the city last year. Ocean cruises were banned from docking in the city centre in July 2023.

Amsterdam City Council noted: “River cruises contribute to the crowds and emissions in the city with tourists, overnight stays, bus movements and supply traffic.”

“River cruises therefore remain part of the Amsterdam visitor economy. We focus on the most sustainable ships that have a connection for green shore power.”

No new builds – Amsterdam overnights capped

Amsterdam's Red Light District at night with people on the canal.
Amsterdam’s Red Light District at night in 2023. Image: Aylata/Shutterstock

By banning the building of new hotels, the council also hopes to reduce the environmental and social impact of overtourism by limiting overnight hotel stays to 20 million annually and discouraging bachelor parties and organised pub crawls.

While 26 new hotels already in the pipeline will be exempt, new hotels must be modern and sustainable and will only be allowed to open when another closes and cannot offer more beds than the previous property.

Amsterdam introduced other crackdowns last year to discourage crowds and counter tourism etiquette issues, including a ban on smoking cannabis in the Red Light District, an increased tourist tax and a ‘Stay Away’ campaign.

It follows wider calls against overtourism in popular European destinations such as recent protests in Spain’s Canary Islands and a new Venice Canal entry fee.