Amsterdam has the highest tourist tax in Europe

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Clara Punsita Ritthikarn
Writer

The Dutch capital raises tourist taxes again.

As of January 2020, the Dutch capital will impose a new levy on travellers staying overnight in hotels in a bid to control over-tourism. This solution for the New Year would mean that Amsterdam will have the highest tourist tax on the continent.

From next year, Amsterdam’s visitors will individually pay three euros ( roughly £2.66) per night to stay in a hotel, on top of seven percent of the current room rate, whereas tourists staying in Airbnbs and other rentals will be charged an increased rate of 10% on a nightly basis. Only children under the age of 16 are exempt from the new rental regulation. Tim Fairhurst, the head of strategy at the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) has said this “will likely make Amsterdam’s the highest overnight tax in Europe, on average”

Although the proliferation of tourist rentals is part of preventative measures aiming to tackle mass tourism, it is not intended to decrease in the foreign tourist figures. According to the city government’s rental report, the international tourist arrivals in Amsterdam are still growing by about 2.1 million for the year ahead. Apparently, it aims to reduce the availability of housing in Amsterdam, particularly in the city centre, after the spread of apartments and hotels and, especially, Airbnb rentals across the city.

“Increasing the tax isn’t to affect the number of visitors, but it’s the principle. It costs a lot to keep our city clean and safe, and our infrastructure like bridges, in a good state” according to Vera Al, the Amsterdam city council spokesperson. She further explained that the Amsterdam council are not willing to “build a fence around the city” in order to dissuade visitors from staying there, instead saying “tourists will come more and more but as a point of principle the council expects them to pay a bit more for the use of public space”.

However, Tim Fairhurst opined that these “flat-rate tax increases are regressive, disproportionately affecting lower-priced accommodation and the visitors who stay there.” He suggested the Dutch capital to “help operators and suppliers plan ahead. Such short-notice increases cannot easily be passed on, and cut commercial margins in what is already an economically stressed industry.”

Seemingly, the city council is aware of this after receiving an invitation from the private lodging company Airbnb for a round-table talk with other tourist organisations. “The city of Amsterdam is already in contact with all kinds of stakeholders in the tourism sector”, Veral Al said.