(3:10 p.m.) -- Amsterdam’s decision to impose a tax just on cruise passengers has led to a 40 percent reduction in the number of calls to the city this year.
P&O Cruises, Cunard, MSC Cruises and Cruise & Maritime Voyages pulled out of the port earlier this year when Amsterdam city council imposed an €8 per 24-hour tax on cruise passengers from January 1, 2019.
Cruise passengers account for less than one percent of overall tourist numbers to the city, according to Dick de Graaf, director of Amsterdam’s Passenger Terminal.
Speaking at the International Cruise Summit in Madrid, de Graaf said: “We lost about more or less 40 percent of our ships this year.”
Sander Groothuis, Director Port Operations Carnival UK, said: “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.
“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.
“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 added: “They count as less than one percent of overall tourism. Cruising has become a symbol in Amsterdam of over tourism and emissions and we are an easy target to get money from.
“The city council lacks a vision on how to deal with mass tourism in the future... It’s all short-term measures, like the cruise tax.
“It was short sighted. We were not at all happy with it. They did not consult with the cruise lines properly, the port authority or myself.”
De Graaf said there was now an atmosphere of “tourism phobia” in Amsterdam, fed by the local newspaper.
“We know we are visible, and we know we are a symbol of over tourism but let’s get the facts and figures on the table and ask the politicians how can we help you with the challenges that you face?
“How can the cruise industry help you with the challenges and it’s something we should really think about.”
Alessandro Carollo, Director of Port Services at Royal Caribbean Cruises, said he felt the cruise industry was already helping local authorities with over tourism:
“We are already in a way helping the destinations with over tourism because the destinations know two years in advance when we are coming, when we leave, how many people we will bring.
“No other type of tourism can promise or deliver a planning window as big as ours so it’s already a massive help to the destinations.”