Amsterdam is quickly developing a reputation as home to the most ludicrous tourist attractions in Europe :
Amsterdam’s tourism industry has swelled exponentially over the last couple of decades, with numbers boosted by increasingly affordable travel services from other European countries and Amsterdam’s growing reputation as a top tourist destination. There is something of a self-perpetuating prophecy about all this.
The Iamexpat website has noted that Amsterdam saw more than 5.7 million tourists arrive in 2014, an increase of half a million compared to the year before. Amsterdam is the 8th most popular tourist destination in the Europe, and this status increases interest in the city.
Amsterdam’s Tourist Industry is scrambling to cater for the huge numbers of tourists :
Amsterdam’s tourism industry provides huge numbers of activities to tourists arriving in the city in a never ending effort to part them from their precious holiday cash. These activities are become more and more bizarre each year – while once holiday activities like Indoor Karting Amsterdam, canal tours and museum tickets were the norm, now those services are squeezing in beside strip shows, nude painting workshops, treasure hunting tours, and in one particular odd case, fellatio classes.
Here is a quick cross section of activities that we turned up during a 5 minute google search:
Red Light Tour.
Canal Dinner tour.
“Stag Arrest” striptease service.
Striptease steak dinner.
Cannabis coffeeshop tour.
Variation seems to be the name of the game… : Amsterdam’s holiday companies vary the product they offer wildly, deftly catering to rowdy stag groups and quiet middle aged sightseers. The inherent dichotomy of their product lists is remarkable and reflects the way in which Amsterdam’s increasing popularity is affecting its reputation and character as a tourist destination.
As more and more people flood into Amsterdam for their holidays every year, it is their expectations, far more than the historic culture of the city, that is influencing how holiday companies market themselves and their activities. This means that while more mundane activities like Indoor Karting were once the norm, they are increasingly rubbing elbows with activities and attractions that are inspired by Amsterdam’s raunchy reputation as a den of vice.
Wilder activities have little cultural grounding :
The truth is that this is creating a culture of vice in the city that was not present before. Many Amsterdammers ascribe this process to the cultural significance ascribed by most foreign visitors to legalised prostitution.
However, this significance is grossly exaggerated – the fact is that most locals citizens find the whole subject of prostitution deathly boring. Regions of the city like De Wallen, Amsterdam’s largest and most popular red light district, have a reputation for being shamelessly dens of debauchery, but it isn’t prostitution that gives them their rep – De Wallen’s notoriety for example has a lot more to do with its proximity to the former harbour district and its historically low housing prices.
In this respect it is like any region of any city in Europe that has a reputation for iniquity – its character has been defined by hundreds of years of economic and social factors. Holiday companies however aren’t fussed, and the image of Amsterdam as an “anything goes” town is proving to be incredibly profitable as a draw for holiday groups.
But inevitably, the tension between the local’s perception of their city and that of tourists is going to come into conflict. The question will be, simply put, will Amsterdammers kill the goose that lays golden eggs in order to create a more refined character for the city’s tourism industry – and if so, will it survive?