Amsterdam will bar cruise ships from docking in the city center as part of a wider effort to curb pollution and reduce the large numbers of tourists who visit the Dutch capital.

The City Council passed a proposal on Thursday to close a terminal where more than a hundred cruise ships dock every year not far from the central station.

“The motivation of the City Council’s proposal was to reduce the number of tourists, but also for environmental reasons,” Amsterdam’s deputy mayor, Hester van Buren, said in a statement on Friday. The municipality has not yet determined when the change will take effect.

The cruise ship measure was the latest attempt by Amsterdam to limit the number of visitors and curb bad behavior as the tourism industry rebounds, addressing long-standing complaints from residents related to overcrowding and rowdy tourists. Last year, the city attracted around 20 million visitors and in 2021, almost nine million tourists came either for a day trip or overnight, according to city ​​data.

To reassure the city’s 900,000 residents, the local government this spring introduced a set of new measures aimed at sending a message to disruptive tourists to behave or stay away. It banned the smoking of marijuana on the streets of its popular red-light district, required earlier closing hours for cafes and restaurants and prostitution businesses, and banned the sale of alcohol in stores after 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

The city also released an advertising campaign in March targeting British men aged 18 to 35, threatening fines for those who come to the city for a “disorderly night”.

“Amsterdam prides itself on being a very open and tolerant city,” said Ko Koens, professor of new urban tourism at Inholland University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam. But residents felt that the open attitude was being abused by tourists.

Covid showed residents how quiet the city could be, he said, adding that Amsterdam wanted to send a message: “Party time is over.”

Amsterdam’s central cruise terminal has welcomed more than 3.8 million passengers and 2,100 ships since it opened in 2000, according to its website.

Dick de Graaff, managing director of Cruise Port Amsterdam, said that they noted that the council no longer wanted cruises at the current location of the terminal. But details were still unclear about when that measure would be implemented and about the process of finding a new location. “There is certainly no immediate ban on ships – let alone an immediate closure of the terminal,” he said in a statement. “It’s business as usual.”

One report of the environmental consultancy CE Delft found that a ship that docked in Amsterdam, the Marella Discovery, emitted the same amount of nitrogen oxide pollutants as 30,000 trucks.

“The polluting cruise is not compatible with the sustainable ambitions of our city,” said Ilana Rooderkerk, leader of the centrist D66 party, which pushed the cruise ship proposal. The city also wanted to build a new bridge to connect a developing district in the north with the rest of the city. But that plan was thwarted by the cruise terminal.

“In other words, Amsterdam sails better without the cruise,” she said.

City residents balk at cruise ship tourists who come in large groups for short visits, which don’t generate as much for local businesses as those who stay longer, Professor Koens said.

“The Venice scenario is what every city fears,” he said.

Venice officials have worried in the past about the impact of day trippers from cruise ships, who locals say have threatened the city’s identity. In 2021, Italy banned large cruise ships from the lagoon around Venice’s historic center to protect it from mass tourism, but has not yet built a new dock to replace it.

Officials in other popular European cities, such as Barcelona, ​​are also fighting to limit the number of cruise ship tourists disembarking on their shores.

Amsterdam is less economically dependent on tourism than other popular cities, and hopes that being more selective about the visitors it attracts will prevent overcrowding that could threaten it several years down the line.

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