30 March 2020 | Information about the proposed guiding regulation has been updated.
18 December 2019 | Information about overnight and VMR taxes in Amsterdam has been updated. A 2020 coach plan is also available here (and via ‘Access and Mobility’ section below).
If you have updated information or corrections please contact email@example.com.
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.
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
- Coach drop off areas, parking and routes
- Live traffic information for coaches
- Live traffic information
- City public transport managed by GVB
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.
These attractions are selected due to high demand and/or operational issues. If you think we should include others, please contact firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Members can contact Amsterdam Gemeente directly by emailing email@example.com.
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 30 March 2020
Amsterdam Gemeente is planning to impose further restrictions to guided tours in the city centre from 1 April 2020. The final decision to implement the proposed plan was supposed to be made mid-March 2020 following a vote at the city hall.
To our understanding, the decision has not yet been made. We are in contact with Gemeente and other stakeholders to understand the situation. If the plan is approved, it will impact visitors in guided groups of more than four people.
Main proposed changes to be implemented from 1 April 2020 are:
- The measure applies to all guided tours, whether on foot, by bike or on Segways.
- Tours are not permitted to pass prostitution windows (map of specific streets).
- Guiding groups over four people 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). This must be visible when guiding.
- 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 08:00 and 22:00 (current regulation bans tours after 19:00).
- Groups are not allowed to stand still at locations that are busy with traffic (like canal bridges) and store entrances during opening hours.
- Speakers or megaphones are not allowed, as well as shouting.
Accompanying a group from A to B is not considered as guiding, through an exemption is not needed. The group leader must be able to prove this with a written proof in Dutch or English. This include, but is not limited to, reservations to hotels, restaurants, attractions, boat cruises and walking tour starting points. Our understanding is that there is no maximum group number for this type of walk.
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.
Since the Gemeente’s initial press release in March 2019 announcing further restrictions, ETOA has been in close contact with local public and private stakeholders. In December 2019 ETOA submitted a response to the public consultation. The answers to the consultation responses were published in February 2020.
Guided tours are liable for a €1.50 pp VMR (entertainment tax) from 1 January 2020.
Online information in Dutch about the proposed tax can be found here.
Read more about VMR tax here.
Public holidays and opening hours
The Netherlands have 11 public holidays. In 2020 they are:
|01 January||New Year’s Day|
|10 April||Good Friday|
|12-13 April||Easter Sunday/Monday|
|27 April||King’s Day|
|05 May||Liberation Day|
|21 May||Ascension Day|
|31 May and 01 June||Whitsun Weekend|
|25-26 December||Christmas Day and 2nd 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. The Municipality of Amsterdam has also created a webpage dedicated to events.
Below events may affect access and accommodation availability
For traffic access updates, please follow links in the ‘Access and Mobility’ section.
27/04/2020: King’s Day (city inaccessible)
01-03/05/2020: Dutch Formula 1 Grand Prix at Zandvoort
04/05/2020: Remembrance Day (Dam Square and surrounding area inaccessible)
05/05/2020: Liberation Day (certain areas of the city inaccessible)
14-27/06/2020: EURO 2020
01/08/2020: Canal Parade
20/09/2020: Dam tot Damloop
18/10/2020: Marathon 2020
15/11/2020: Intocht Sinterklaas
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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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