Like several other heavily visited European cities, Amsterdam experienced a dramatic pause in tourism during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the Netherlands’ borders closed and major attractions like the Rijksmuseum emptied of the usual throngs of international visitors, locals were able to reclaim the historic heart of the city.
Now, Amsterdam’s leaders are determined to permanently shift the economic balance between residents and tourists, and rethink Amsterdam’s free-wheeling image as a magnet for sex- and drug-seeking vacationers. “People who have lived here for a very long time feel estranged,” says the city’s mayor, Femke Halsema. “We do not want to become Venice or Dubrovnik, where your historical center has become a closed theme park. In the future it has to be a livable part of the city.”