In its latest move to clamp down on overtourism, the Amsterdam City Council has approved a proposal for banning “polluting” cruise ships from calling in the downtown area.
The proposal was adopted late last week “with a clear majority,” said the center-left party D66, which sits on the Council.
“Polluting cruise ships do not fit with the sustainable ambitions” of Amsterdam, commented party leader Liana Rooderkerk, adding: ”Cruise ships in the heart of the city do not fit into Amsterdam’s goal of reducing the number of tourists.”
Still to be decided is a timeline for implementing the proposal and an eventual closing of the big cruise terminal in the city centre.
The move by the Amsterdam City Council comes amidst a growing number of similar initiatives by popular destination cities in Europe and elsewhere to limit or ban cruise liners. Notable recent examples are Venice, Barcelona and Dubrovnik.
In addition to the ocean-going ships, Amsterdam is a primary homeport for river cruise ships sailing from the Netherlands to Germany, Switzerland, France, and Eastern Europe. However, these river cruise ships are not presently included in the proposed ban.
Apart from the flood of tourists in the city, the environmental footprint of the large cruise ships has been a major concern. Since the cruise ships cannot connect to shore power in Amsterdam, they are a significant source of pollution. They release sulfur, nitrogen, and particulate matter as their engines remain running while in port.
Response from Cruise Lines International
In response to the news, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) argued there was no ban in effect.
“We are aware of the media reports about the future of cruise in Amsterdam. As the port has publicly stated, cruise ships have not been banned from Amsterdam,” the CLIA said. “Furthermore, the port and Passenger Terminal Amsterdam have already pledged to undertake investments worth millions of Euros in port infrastructure and shoreside electricity for the long-term. There have been discussions on its relocation outside the city centre which started back in 2016 and which are still ongoing.
“We are working with the authorities to accommodate the views expressed by Council members while continuing to support the communities that benefit from cruise tourism. Of the more than 21 million visitors that Amsterdam receives each year, around 1% arrive by cruise ship, with cruise tourism contributing around 105 million Euros to the city annually.”