Houses in Amsterdam

The Dutch capital city of Amsterdam will be levying an additional €3 (currently, just over US$3) per person, per night on travelers staying overnight in hotels, on top of the seven-percent tax on room rates that it already charges.

Tim Fairhurst, director of policy for the European Tourism Association (ETOA), told CNN: “It will likely make Amsterdam’s the highest overnight tax in Europe, on average.”

Taking, for example, an arbitrary date of March 28, 2020: a room with two twin beds and a shared bathroom at Amsterdam’s one-star Rembrandt Square Hotel as listed on Booking.com will cost €132.46. With the seven-percent room tax plus €3 per guest, you could expect to pay €15.97 in tax to the city for every night booked.

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In comparison, consider that Rome currently charges Europe’s highest fixed-price tax of €7 per person, per night, in a five-star hotel. Even a room at the Hotel de Russie, running about €815 on March 28, would charge a lower levy amount (€14) than the one-star Amsterdam accommodation.

In Berlin, which charges a tourist tax of five-percent, the city’s most expensive hotel, Hotel Adlon Kempinski—famous for hosting world leaders and celebrities—would charge €249.35 for a room, and €11.65 in tourist tax on the same date.

Essentially, even the highest-priced rooms in other major European capitals’ five-star hotels would incur a lower levy than a one-star accommodation in Amsterdam on the same night.

And, don’t go thinking that Airbnb or private-property rentals will be exempt—instead, expect the existing tax to be raised to ten percent of your rental rate. However, children under the age of sixteen will be exempt from the new levy and campsites will charge only €1 per adult.

Amsterdam has lately found itself overrun by tourism, with eighteen million visitors descending annually upon its 867,000 residents.

Municipal authorities continue to implement measures in efforts stem the tide and rein in the behavior or overzealous visitors, including dismantling the “iamsterdam” sign outside the Rijksmuseum—a former “selfie” spot—in December 2018.

A new ban on tours of the infamous red-light district and a fifteen-person cap on groups touring the medieval center come into effect on January 1, 2020. The newly-announced extra tourist tax will now be among the policies to take effect on the first of next year.

A spokesperson for Amsterdam City Council told CNN: “Visitors will contribute more to the high costs of keeping the city safe and clean, and of keeping the public space like pavements, quays, bridges and streets, in a good state.”

Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel, feels that the change is positive. He stated: “Our right to travel simply does not outweigh the rights of local people to enjoy their homes, or the need to preserve the environment. Tourist taxes need to be set at a level that will have an impact.”

Tim Fairhurst of the ETOA, however, feels that such short-notice tax hikes are unfair to operators and suppliers, as it’s too late to easily pass on the costs to customers. He also commented: “Annual increases are not news, but their relentless rise is cause for concern. Flat-rate tax increases are regressive, disproportionately affecting lower-priced accommodation and the visitors who stay there.”

Another European city severely stressed by overtourism, Venice recently announced its own plans to charge visitors a daily entrance fee of up to €10 during peak-season days, although this is expected to mainly affect day-trippers and should be waived for those overnighting in the city.

Other continental destinations feeling the strain of overtourism, Barcelona and Dubrovnik, respectively charge tourist taxes of up to €2.25 and €1.35 per person, per night, and neither has thus far indicated that a price hike is imminent.