23 July 2019 | While best efforts have been made to verify the accuracy of the information, it should be used as guidance only. If you have updated information please contact policy@etoa.org.

17 October 2019 | Information about proposed coach plan and consultation process has been updated.

8 November 2019 | Information about overnight tax in Amsterdam has been updated.

25 November 2019 | Information about proposed guiding regulation and VMR tax in Amsterdam has been updated.

Tax

Amsterdam levies overnight (toeristenbelasting) and day-visit taxes (dagtoeristenbelasting and vermakelijkhedenretributie known as VMR).

Please click on the right hand banner to find out rates and further information.  

ETOA submitted a letter to the Finance and Economic Affairs Council in October 2019 on the proposed changes to the 2020 rate for the toeristenbelasting (overnight tourist tax) and VMR.

ETOA submission to Amsterdam Finance and Economic Affairs Council October 2019

In November 2019 the city council decided to increase the toeristenbelasting (overnight tourist tax) and VMR for 2020.

The city government (Gemeente) intends to raise €105million annually from the visitor economy by 2021. While the introduction of a day tax on sea and river cruise passengers from 1 January 2019, and rising overnight tax, was intended to contribute to this fiscal goal, some cruise ship volume has already moved to Ijmuiden and Rotterdam, giving rise to increased inter-city coach excursions to Amsterdam, and loss of revenue to the city.

Access and Mobility

Air Quality restrictions (low emission zone)

Amsterdam strictly controls coach access in the city centre. Coaches registered before 1 January 2005 are not allowed in the low emission zone (South of IJ river and within A10 ring road). It is important that all drivers and guides are familiar with common practice as ‘anti-coach’ sentiment is reinforced by pictures on social media of illegal parking, turning, engine idling etc. Public opinion directly affects policy making.

Access and Coach Parking

On New Years Eve, 31 December, no public transport will run from 20:00 to the morning of 01 January.

In May 2019, Amsterdam’s city government (Gemeente) published the Clean Air Action Plan to make all traffic emission-free by 2030 and would be implemented in stages. What happens in practice may differ significantly as the challenges of implementation clarify, but it is important to be aware of the scale and scope of the city’s ambition.

On 03 October 2019 the Gemeente released their new strategic coach policy agenda 2020- 2025 for consultation which closed on 19 November 2019. They have included a foreword and summary in English on page 38-39 explaining eight key steps in their plan. Our response can be found here ETOA – Agenda Touringcar 2020-2025 consultation submission.

Attractions

These attractions are selected due to high demand and/or operational issues. If you think we should include others, please contact policy@etoa.org.

Attractions based in The Netherlands outside of Amsterdam can be found here.

If you are a member attraction of ETOA and would like your attraction featured on this page, please contact policy@etoa.org.

Information about group visits can be found here.

Information about tickets and opening hours can be found here. The bookings open two months in advance.

Group ticketing has become highly problematic and it is not allowed for tour operators to buy tickets for their clients.

The 2018 terms and conditions state “The Anne Frank House wants to give as many individuals and (school) groups as possible the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank House, at an entry price determined by us. Travel organisations / tour operators may not make bookings for third parties.”  (clause 2.5)

According to their Visitor Service department, the change was intended to control the re-selling of tickets.

Clearly the new condition affects operators selling packages including the Anne Frank House and we have had reports of operators being denied tickets.

Guiding regulation

Updated 8 November 2019

While guiding is not a regulated profession in the Netherlands and thus access to the profession cannot be controlled, Amsterdam has used its powers to control commercial activity by imposing significant restrictions on organised walking tours.

Amsterdam imposed rules regarding guided group walking tours in April 2018 in parts of the De Wallen area in the city centre including the Red Light District and the Dam Square. The stated reason was to prevent public nuisance for residents, business owners and other visitors. ETOA and others argue that nuisance is generally caused by individual visitors. Nevertheless, as the city can control commercial activity in public places, it has chosen to do so.

Regulations have been further tightened from 01 April 2019 and more changes are proposed from 01 April 2020. Summary of the information and intended changes in below drop down menu.

ETOA is in close contact with local stakeholders including Gemeente (the city call) regarding any developments and consultation. Please contact policy@etoa.org to learn more.

Members can contact Amsterdam Gemeente directly by emailing tours@amsterdam.nl.

Please click on the right hand banner to read more about guiding regulations in Europe and the ETOA tour guide ID card.

Tour guides need a permit to lead groups within the restricted areas. The rules apply to any tour guides or leaders either guiding or escorting groups of more than four people through the area.

Guides must obtain a permit to be able to guide in the area for a fee of €165.40, which is valid until 31 March 2020 (initial end period was 31 December 2019, but this has been extended due to the extension of the new regulation). Guides will not need to be certified guides to apply for the permit and they will not need a Citizen Service Number (BSN) to apply.  

Please follow this link for the application form.   

Before applying, the guide will need to prepare information about the following:  

  • Frequency of tours  
  • Size of groups  
  • Company name the guide is working for (if applicable)  

The permit can be picked up in one of Amsterdam’s city offices.  

Details of restrictions in English, Spanish and Dutch, and related mapping, are available here 

Key provisions include:  

  • Groups cannot be larger than 20 people  
  • Tours must be finished by 19.00 at the latest.  
  • The rules apply to all guided tours, whether on foot, by bike or on Segways 
  • Groups are not allowed to stand still at locations that are busy with traffic (like canal bridges) and store entrances during opening hours. See website above for affected areas.  
  • Taking photos of sex workers is prohibited, and guides must ensure that groups stand with their backs to the sex workers.  
  • Loudspeakers or megaphones are not allowed, nor shouting.  
  • Alcohol and drug use are prohibited during the tours.  
  • Before the tour, guides must instruct the groups to show respect for local residents, businesses and sex workers. 
  • If the rules are broken, the guide will face a fee of €190 if the guide is an individual or €950 if the guide is guiding for a company.  
  • After three violations, the permit will be revoked.  

Updated 25 November 2019

Amsterdam Gemeente issued a press release on 20 March 2019 announcing a proposed ban on walking tours in the Red Light District (RLD) from 01 January 2020 as well as other restrictions.

On 23 August 2019 it was announced that these restrictions will not be implemented until 01 April 2020 and that a consultation process of four weeks will be held in 2019.

On 13 November 2019 the Gemeente sent out a letter to stakeholders with a new draft publication of the plan for guiding in the city centre from 1 April 2020. Compared to the initial proposal sent on 20 March 2019 there are some main changes to be aware of.

The draft publication can be downloaded here (in Dutch).

The public consultation is open for responses until 15 December 2019 and responses should be sent via email to tours@amsterdam.nl with the subject: “Public consultation response: Permit Policy for Guided Tours 2020”. The Gemeente will hold a public meeting about the plan on 2 December 16:00-20:00 in Dutch. Registration here.

It is important to note that accompanying a group from a to b is not considered as guiding, though the group leader must be able to prove this (i.e. hotel/restaurant reservation or tickets to an attraction or museum). Our understanding is that this will mean that there is no maximum group number for this type of walk.

Main proposed changes to be implemented from 1 April 2020 are:

  • All guided tours with over four participants are banned in front of sex workers’ windows (map of specific streets available in draft publication page 6-7).
  • Guiding within the entire city centre (s100) is only allowed with an exemption.
  • Exemptions from 1 April 2020-31 March 2022 will cost €200 (current price is €165.40 for one year).
  • Guided groups cannot be larger than 15 pax (currently 20 pax).
  • It is not allowed to recruit tour participants on the street.
  • Tours are only allowed between the hours of 09:00 and 22:00 (current regulation bans tours after 19:00).

ETOA comment
In banning organised walking tours within the RLD and proposing further restrictions in a wider area, the authorities have decided that organised tours of any size are a significant contributor to over-crowding, that groups cause nuisance, and that sex workers are adversely affected by group tourism. This is disputed. Nevertheless, the Gemeente’s apparent priority is to prevent the windows where sex workers are visible from being treated as a commercial tourist attraction. This appears not to recognise the area’s broader cultural and historical appeal.

ETOA fully recognises that the impact of these moves are drastic: an entire suite of product delivered in a public place has been banned by an administrative act. This affects businesses, guides and clients. Issues of fairness arise as non-organised groups and individual visitors cause nuisance; an open sex-trade and freely available soft-drugs will continue to attract them, and they will be free to visit. In requiring guides to have a permit elsewhere, the city is using commercial control to regulate activity; guiding itself remains an unregulated profession in the Netherlands. Strongly diverging opinions on the merits of this policy and the consultation process that led up to it are evident.

It is our understanding that guided tours will be liable for a €1.50 pp VMR (entertainment tax) from 1 January 2020, the decision was made on 7 November 2019.

Some organisers of city tours in Amsterdam have received a letter and leaflet with information about the proposed collection process and exemption.

Online information in Dutch about the proposed tax can be found here.

Read more about VMR tax here.

Public holidays and opening hours

A list of national holidays can be found below.

These local holidays may affect access and operations in Amsterdam.

27 April King’s Day
5 May Liberation Day

The Netherlands have 11 public holidays. In 2019 they are:

1 January New Year’s Day
19 April Good Friday
Between 21 March and 22 April Easter
27 April King’s Day
5 May Liberation Day
30 May Ascension Day
9 and 10 June Whitsun Weekend
25 December Christmas Day

Please click here for more information.

Opening hours are generally 09:00-17:30, banks and post offices 09:00-17:00. Please click here for more information.

Events and seasonality

For an overview of events taking place in Amsterdam, the local tourist board (Amsterdam and Partners) has developed a web calendar.

Amsterdam events

ETOA activity

ETOA’s Market Manager Yamin Saadi is focusing on developing the local membership base. We have regular meetings with local stakeholders including the City in Balance and Transport teams in the Gemeente, and Amsterdam and Partners.

ETOA has a working group composed of local member companies representing canal cruise, museum, coach transport and guided walks, plus operators. We would welcome participation from the accommodation sector, and from more operators. For further information, please email the team at policy@etoa.org.

ETOA 30th anniversary drinks reception: ETOA organisied an informal networking drinks event in Amsterdam on 3rd of September. Please click here for more information.

Yamine Saadi

Yamin Saadi
Maket Manager, France & Benelux
ysaadi@etoa.org
+44 20 3325 5010

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Resources

Further information on Amsterdam & Partners can be found here.

The Gemeente’s coalition agreement (May 2018) outlining the city government’s ambitions can be found here.

Their 2018-2022 programme ‘City in Balance – Towards a new equilibrium between quality of life and hospitality’ (in English) can be found here.

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