07 July 2020 | Information about an upcoming city hall consultation in August regarding the quality of guiding has been added.

07 April 2020 | Information about the new 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 policy@etoa.org.

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 07 July 2020

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 were tightened from 01 April 2019 and again from 01 April 2020. Furthermore, the Gemeente will commence consultation with guides in August 2020 regarding introducing a potential qualification stamp. Summary of the information and changes in below drop down menu.

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.

Updated 07 April 2020

It has been confirmed by the Gemeente’s ‘Tours’ department that new guiding regulations are now in place.

Regulations from 01 April 2020

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 (called ‘ontheffing’).
  • Exemptions from 1 April 2020-31 March 2022 costs €200. The exemption must be visible when guiding.
  • Guided groups cannot be larger than 15 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.
  • 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.

The details of the proposed plan can be found here (in Dutch) or on their official website. A pamphlet version in English here.

Accompanying groups
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.

Guided tours are liable for a €1.50 pp VMR (entertainment tax) from 1 January 2020.

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

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

Read more about VMR tax here.

With the new regulations commencing in April 2020, the Gemeente announced on 22 August 2019 that one of the new measures would be:

Introduction of quality requirements for guides: The City of Amsterdam and the industry are researching the possibilities of certification
and/or quality requirements.”

In August 2020, the Gemeente held two public consultations. Email received 6 July from Gemeente below (machine translated from Dutch):

“We are curious about your ideas about how guiding Amsterdam can contribute to the city as a quality destination in the coming years. Questions that may arise during the conversation are: What do we mean by quality? What do we need to achieve that quality? What do we mean by a quality mark or quality requirements? And what do you expect from the municipality of Amsterdam?

So the purpose of the conversation is to gather ideas. During the meeting, an emphatic decision is not made about the introduction of a quality mark or quality requirements.”

We will provide more information when we know the outcome of the meetings and next steps.

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 (including the Gemeente – city hall). In December 2019 ETOA submitted a response to the public consultation. The answers to the consultation responses were published in February 2020. Please contact policy@etoa.org to learn more.

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.

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: King’s Day (city inaccessible)
01-03/05/2020: Dutch Formula 1 Grand Prix at Zandvoort – postponed to 2021
04/05: Remembrance Day (Dam Square and surrounding area inaccessible)
05/05: Liberation Day (certain areas of the city inaccessible)
14-27/06/2020: EURO 2020 – postponed
07/08/2021: Canal Parade
20-24/08/2025: Sail
20/09/2020: Dam tot Damloop
18/10/2020: Marathon 2020
15/11/2020: Intocht Sinterklaas

Amsterdam events

ETOA activity

ETOA’s Senior Manager Jay Munro-Michell is focusing on developing the local membership base in The Netherlands. 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 organised an informal networking drinks event in Amsterdam on 3rd of September 2019. Please click here for more information.

Jay Munro-Michell

Jay Munro-Michell
Senior Manager, Buyers & Travel Technology
jmunro-michell@etoa.org
+44 7881 371054

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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