Amsterdam’s Tax on Cruise Passengers Results in 40-Percent Drop in Arrivals

After issues with overtourism forced officials in Amsterdam to implement a tax on cruise ship passengers arriving in the city, reports indicate it has resulted in a 40-percent reduction in the number of calls in 2019.

According to Cruise Critic, Amsterdam Passenger Terminal director Dick de Graaf said the passengers entering the city on an excursion from cruise ships only account for less than one percent of overall tourist numbers.

The 40-percent drop this was due in part to major brands such as Cunard, MSC Cruises and P&O Cruises stopping service to Amsterdam following the implementation of the €8 per 24-hour tax that went into effect January 1, 2019.

“Cruise lines are targeted as an easy, captive audience. The ship pulls up, you know exactly how many people are on the ship, you get a perfect manifest, so you know, you can count,” Carnival UK Director of Port Operations Sander Groothuis told CruiseCritic.com. “But then you have all these other people coming in on all these different modes of transport to the city — they’re not targeted — nobody’s at the train station charging you once you step off the train saying: ‘OK, welcome to Amsterdam, can I get 20 euros from you?’”

“Because we are a captive audience it’s easy for an authority to enforce because they know exactly the count — we’ve become an easy target,” Groothuis continued. “That’s why we get upset sometimes — look at the total folio of how many tourists that come in, they’ve picked the easy ones.”

De Graaf said the city was dealing with an “atmosphere of tourism phobia” that was being fueled by the decision to implement the tax by the Amsterdam city council and propagandization by local newspapers.

Royal Caribbean International Director of Port Services Alessandro Carollo also told Cruise Critic that cruise companies are the only form of tourism that can give a city the exact number of arrivals up to two years ahead of time, allowing the destination to plan for the influx of travelers.

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