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As Tourism Booms, Amsterdam Shifts to Damage Control

Fed up with raucous tourists, the Netherlands will stop promoting its capital as a destination. But new airports, cruises, and hotels will keep them coming.
Revelers sail on a canal in downtown Amsterdam for a King's Day celebration. Amsterdam has considered banning drinking on boats to cut down noise and nuisance on its canals.
Revelers sail on a canal in downtown Amsterdam for a King's Day celebration. Amsterdam has considered banning drinking on boats to cut down noise and nuisance on its canals.Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

Earlier this month, a report from the Netherlands Tourist Board announced a remarkable policy change: Acknowledging that “more is not always better,” the board will no longer actively promote its country as a tourist destination. Instead, straining under the pressure of a booming tourism scene, the board will focus on redistributing the visitors it already has, operating as a sort of tourism damage control for popular vacation hotspots.

It seems that barely a week goes by in Amsterdam without some new push to contain the travel industry. Also this month, the city announced a ban on tour groups in the Red Light District, where they have been causing frustration by coming solely to gawp. After a previous ban on beer bikes, the city considered (but then rejected) banning drinking on boats to prevent noise and nuisance on the canals. And things have reached such a head that, last winter, the city removed the famous “I Amsterdam” sign from outside the Rijksmuseum because people were sick of the gridlock it created as tourists flocked to get a good selfie.