IntroductionFor many years the city of Amsterdamhas been an allurement for a wide range of cultural visitors (both foreign anddomestic) who are aiming for visiting its cultural attributes visible within multiplelandmarks, highly recognized museums, distinctive buildings and architecture,but also to enjoy the cities’ culture, vibrant districts as well as nightlife.
Tourism, in particular cultural tourism, is the economic engine of Amsterdam.In comparison with 2010, expenditures of visitors rose from 12 billion to 21billion euros in 2016 (van Zoelen, 2017), the number of visitors is annually increasingwith approximately 5% and is expected to continue growing within the comingyears.For cities, developingcultural tourism is seen as a means for enhancing local economies, employmentcreation, development or improvement of infrastructure, increase inexpenditures as well as the development of new facilities accessible to bothvisitors as well as local inhabitants, amongst others. However, increasingtourism numbers in urban destinations might instigate several negative effectssuch as traffic jams, increasing costs of living, speculation among properties,commercialisation of urban areas, loss of place identity among locals as wellas contamination (Tokarchuk et al., 2017). Moreover, effects of tourism oninhabitants have been underexposed for years and have a substantial impact onthe quality of life in a positive or negative way.
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Consequently, this essaywill be dealing with the following research question: In what way is theconstantly growing number of visitors to Amsterdam being experienced byinhabitants living in the city-centre?In the first place, theessay starts with a theoretical framework that shortly outlines culturaltourism in urban contexts. Subsequently, the focus will be on the effects oftourism on quality of life of inhabitants in European cities as well as theimportance of cultural tourism to Amsterdam. Thereafter, the methodology willbe shortly explained, followed by the empirical results based on twelveinterviews with inhabitants of Amsterdam performed in 2015 in the analysissection. The essay will be concluded by stating the most important outcomes ofthe research in the conclusion.2. Theoretical framework2.
1. Cultural tourism in urban contextsBefore focusing on cultural tourismin urban contexts, culture needs to be briefly defined. According to Mousavi etal. (2016) culture can be seen in a twofold way: as a process, which entailsthe way of life as well as codes of conduct embedded in different societalcommunities that create meaning. Culture viewed from a product perspective mightbe considered as individual or group activities to which specific meanings areenclosed. In relation to tourism, these definitions are slightly similar andinterwoven.
However, tourism together with contributing other social processescomprises both perspectives: culture as a process might be transformed intocultural products. Cultural tourism focuseson a destinations’ cultural assets such as practices, rituals, traditions,heritage, history, the way of life, thoughts and lifestyles that might becreated into cultural products (Du Cros & McKercher, 2015). Within culturaltourism, tourists are generally aiming for obtaining educative, creative andentertaining experiences (Smith, 2016). In addition, cultural products consistof immovable objects as well as tangible, intangible and creative activities(Richards, 2011) such as museums, monuments, archaeological sites, cathedrals,theatres, galleries, festivals, traditions, gastronomy, amongst others (Smith,2016). Moreover, cultural tourism can be considered as a collection ofencounters between different cultures that could elicit awareness andalterations among both of them, the host-guest relation.McKercher & Du Cros(2002) created a typology of cultural tourists in which motivations for visitingcultural attributes in destinations range from high to low and where culturalexperiences vary from deep to shallow.
Types of cultural tourists are thepurposeful cultural tourist, sightseeing cultural tourist, serendipitouscultural tourist, casual tourist and the incidental cultural tourist. On theother hand, Caldeira & Kastenholz (2017) distinguish between motivations,first-time visitors and repeat visits, expressing that the latter mainlypossesses motivations such as relaxation and familiarity, while first-timevisitors have novelty and new cultural experiences as their primarymotivations. In addition, first-time visitors might focus on a destinations’most important attractions, while repeat visitors tend to focus more on lessvisited attractions. Patterns of movement, therefor, differ among both groups.Smith (2016) furthermoreargues that cultural tourism is gradually growing and constantly subject tochange and development. As a result, cultural tourism in its contemporary formmight be increasingly difficult to define (Noonan & Rizzo, 2017) as a widerange of activities has components of culture involved.
Cultural tourists areconstantly seeking for new, authentic and genuine experiences in both urban andrural areas. Nevertheless, primary motivations of cultural tourists not onlyfocus on gathering cultural experiences. Relaxation, recreation, and fun arealso important motives for holidaymakers (Smith, 2016). However, growingcultural tourism might have considerable effects on quality of life ofinhabitants living in cultural tourism destinations, both positively as well asnegatively (Wise, et al., 2017).2.2.
Effects of culturaltourism on quality of life of local inhabitants in European citiesEconomic and social development as aresult of tourism may be achieved by striving for a precise and constructiveresource management (Catudan, 2016). However, too good management and overexploitationof (cultural) resources may eventually result in the opposite, in a destinationlosing its equilibrium between on the one hand liveability for locals and, onthe other hand, growing tourism numbers (Pinkster & Boterman, 2017). Whathas started for numerous cities as a means for revitalizing city-centres,promoting cultural treasures to outsiders, stimulating local economies,improvement of local service levels, development of infrastructure and publictransportation networks (Afthanorhan et al., 2017), nowadays, several Europeancities that are famous for their cultural features are increasingly facing thedisadvantages of tourism as it is negatively impacting its inhabitants. As aresult, many parties currently focus on studying the negative socio-cultural impactsof tourism on local societies in urban contexts, rather than the positive effects(Gerritsma & Vork, 2017). Zamani-Farahani (2012) mention negative impacts such as the migration of communities toother neighbourhoods that differ from previous living conditions, increasingnumbers of criminality and prostitution that might come along with tourismdevelopment in urban environments.
From a government perspective, in citiessuch as Barcelona, Berlin, Milan, Venice and Dubrovnik, the issue of anescalating tourism sector is so urgent that it is placed as one of the mostimportant items on political agendas. Especially in the smaller size citiesmentioned in table 1 such as, Barcelona Milan and Prague, but also in largercities like Rome, protests by inhabitants against tourism are expanding. Noisenuisance, contamination, increasing prices for living as well ascommercialisation of neighbourhoods (Kottasová, 2017) are a few of thementioned statements of inhabitants expressing their resistance towardsexcessive tourism numbers and their associated effects. Some measures have beentaken in cities in order to balance tourism numbers and quality of life oflocals. Those are measures such as preventing public drinking, restrictions tofood trucks and selfie sticks (Coldwell, 2017) installing tourist police,controlling the number of cruise ships, limiting the number of hotel rooms,decreasing the number of permits for takeaway shops, instruction campaigns andtourist tax (Kottasová, 2017). These should give rise to tourists beingencouraged to show appropriate behaviour and assure sustainable livingconditions for locals.
2.3. Amsterdam as a(cultural) tourism destinationAs a result of economic development,the increasing promotion and importance of urban tourism, the growingpossibilities for cheap (seasonal) traveling (Gerritsma & Vork, 2017) aswell as the presence of new accommodation possibilities such as Airbnb(Kottasová, 2017), tourism is growing in Amsterdam. In 2000, the city received approximatelyeight million overnight stays (Gemeente Amsterdam, Bureau Onderzoek, Informatie& Statistiek, 2002). Presently, this number is already achieved after halfa year.Amsterdam is yearlyannounced as one of the most visited cultural tourism destinations in Europe.
Although the city is being visited by a wide variety of tourists with differentmotivations and expectations, the majority of them are interested in visitingthe cities’ museums and art exhibitions (NBTC, 2016; SP, 2017). Amsterdam wasin place 28 in the top-100 worldwide city destinations in 2017, ranked with6,570.400 tourist arrivals (Geerts et al., 2017). Larger European cities suchas London, Paris, Rome, Istanbul, Prague, Barcelona and Milan were among thetop-25 most visited destinations worldwide.
As can be seen in table 1, amongthe European cities, Amsterdam is in place eight when it comes to most visiteddestinations, leaving popular cities such as Vienna and Berlin behind.Nevertheless, Amsterdam is a relatively small city in terms of size. Theimpacts of cultural tourism might, therefore, have a substantial impact onlocal inhabitants.
Nr. City Tourist arrivals per year Population (odd) Size of city in km2 1 London 19,842.800 8,8 million 1.572 km2 2 Paris 14,263.000 2,2 million 105,4 km2 3 Rome 9,565.500 2,9 million 1.285 km2 4 Istanbul 8,642.300 14,8 million 1.
539 km2 5 Prague 8,550.700 1,3 million 496 km2 6 Barcelona 7,624.100 1,6 million 101,9 km2 7 Milan 6,882.500 1,3 million 181,8 km2 8 Amsterdam 6,570.400 821.
752 219,3 km2 9 Vienna 6,043.700 1,8 million 414,6 km2 10 Berlin 5,833.100 3,5 million 891,8 km2 Table 1. Most visited Europeancities, their population, and size (Source: adapted from Geerts, et al., 2017)Local authorities andorganisations in Amsterdam increasingly see the necessity to balance tourismand quality of life of inhabitants as locals are increasingly starting tocomplain or stand up against the continuous tourism development in Amsterdam(Pijbes, 2014; Couzy, 2017), as it is affecting their daily lives. AlthoughAmsterdam is taking several measures in order to find a balance between tourismand quality of life of locals such as, spreading tourism in- and outsideAmsterdam with mentioning other Dutch destinations in the vicinity of the cityfor example, Amsterdam Beach (Zandvoort), Flowers of Amsterdam (Keukenhof,Lisse) and Castles and Gardens of Amsterdam (Muiderslot, Muiden) (AT5, 2016),the question remains in what way tourism is being experienced by inhabitantsliving in the city-centre of Amsterdam. 3.
MethodologyOn the basis of the visitor pressureconcept developed by Postma (2013), presented in figure 1, semi-structuredinterviews with 26 respondents have been carried out in 2015 as part of anunpublished pilot research project performed by the author in favour of theEuropean Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI). The data of the interviews mightstill be relevant to date as the research project is still continuing (in otherEuropean cities as well), and provides insight in how inhabitants perceivetourism (development) in Amsterdam. The visitor pressure concept is based on critical incidents that have a significantimpact on inhabitants and can be experienced in a positive or negative way(Anton, 1996). To assess respondents’ responses to critical incidents,measurement tools have been developed defining the level of emotional andbehavioural responses. These are presented and explained in figure 1. Figure 1. Emotional and behavioural responsesto critical encounters in tourism (Source: Postma, 2013)Twelve of the 26interviews that have been performed throughout the pilot project in 2015 haveagain been analyzed and used for this essay.
However, since the data has beengathered almost three years ago, empirical results could slightly deviate fromresults that would otherwise have been collected recently. Meanings, statementsand opinions of interviewees towards tourism in Amsterdam that have been broughtforward in 2015 could have been experienced differently in 2018. Though, theresults in this essay give insight in how respondents experienced tourism in Amsterdamin 2015.In order to receive a diversity in information, theauthor decided on making use of qualitative research by applying thesemi-structured interview technique. This technique allowed the intervieweeto share a substantial amount of information since it is a rather open methodto obtain topic-related information. Moreover, it leaves room for therespondent to add his or her own comments (Veal, 2014). Besides that, interviewswere in the case of this research topic more suitable than a quantitativeapproach since they provide a more detailed and in-depth insight in experiences,emotions, behaviours as well as feelings of respondents (Rahman, 2017) inrelation to tourism in Amsterdam, which is the main goal of this research. At the time respondents shared their experiences, the author generallyasked follow-up questions such as ‘where did it occur?’ or ‘how didyou feel afterwards?’ in order to stimulate respondents to elaborate theirexperiences to a greater extent.
Interviews have been transcribed and opencoding has been used to analyse the gathered data.4. AnalysisAt the moment the interviews wereheld, most interviewed respondents resided in the city-centre for 1-60 yearsand were aged between 21-69 years. Some of them were living in or nearby thetourism core area, but within the city-centre, while others formerly lived inthis area and moved to places outside (but in the proximity) of Amsterdam.Moreover, some of the interviewees had an interest in tourism (e.g.
incomedependence on tourism) and expressed themselves more positive than negativeabout tourism in Amsterdam. In addition, respondents living in the tourism corearea were generally more sceptical or (slightly) negative towards tourism incomparison with respondents who were living nearby or outside the area, althoughthey argued that tourism also brought benefits such as the possibility to showthe beauty and liveliness of the city to outsiders, internationalization aswell as the importance of tourism in terms of economic aspects.”I find ourselves (inhabitants of Amsterdam) ambassadors of the city andI will always be as friendly as possible and I try ……… to provide tourists withinformation about our city””I constantly speak French, Italian, English, German because it isneeded.
Tourists ask you to point the way, and then I add a lot of things toit. If they ask for the Anne Frank house, I add a brief story to it (pointingthe way)””Obviously, it (tourism) brings in a lot of money for many businesses,shops, restaurants, hotels, so, in this regard only positive””People who are living in Amsterdam should realize that tourists bringin money and the city definitely benefits from it (tourism). We as a citybecome richer”By asking interviewees’general perceptions of tourism to Amsterdam, it became clear that especiallyspecific areas situated on the edge of, as well as within the inner part of,the city-centre are touristic and overcrowded, particularly within the summerperiod.
Moreover, since Amsterdam is a small city in comparison with otherEuropean city destinations, its most important landmarks are predominantlylocated on short distance from each other, which makes that tourist activity ismainly centred among those locations and ensures specific crowded and congestedplaces, as have been pointed out by the following quotes: “It (tourism) more or less startsin the Haarlemmerstraat, Dijk and via the Prinsengracht just along the edge ofthe Jordaan, continues up to the Negen Straatjes and around the Leidsestraat.This part is really touristic and crowded”.”It (the city-centre) looks like an amusement park, so at this momenttoo much (tourism)”Increasing tourism hasled to certain parts within the city-centre being experienced as gentrified.Buildings lost their original functions, residents moved to other parts oroutside the city and loss of social cohesion in neighbourhood contexts appeared.
Whereas gentrification seen from a spatial point of view resembles a positiveupgrade of a certain neighbourhood on several aspects (Gainza, 2017), for inhabitantsof Amsterdam the meaning has a negative connotation.”Three or four years ago it was really cosy in our neighbourhood. Ouranchorage is already gone for a long time, in the meantime the residents alsoleft”. The social feeling within the neighbourhood is gone and I fear this willonly get worse”.”What I find annoying is that a lot of authentic shops close their doorsand are being replaced by catering facilities, coffee shops or souvenir shops.So….
, in other words, I find that the offering of shops is increasinglybecoming attenuated”A growing tourismindustry, the concentration of tourists in certain tourist areas as well ascultural differences between locals and tourists furthermore regularlyinstigated dangerous situations due to tourists not being aware of trafficrules. This resulted in increased irritation levels among both interviewees andtourists, but also to the fact that locals changed behaviours by avoidingcertain overcrowded areas. In addition, Interviewees argued that some areas weretourist domains. In those areas, locals were generally absent and increasinglypreferred to visit other places that were located outside the city-centre, andthat had not yet been discovered by tourists.
“In traffic, I experiencedseveral dangerous situations while I was cycling through the city-centre. Ihave been running over a few times by large groups who were cycling over thebridges. They did not know how to use brakes and were not aware of the factthat people coming from the right side of the road normally have right of way.”What I see is that inhabitants and tourists are avoiding each other.Many inhabitants of Amsterdam do not visit the city-centre anymore when theywant to go out. Besides, they go to the western part of the city, to Hallen, theeastern part, the Indian neighbourhood or to Beukenplein.
In this way, newplaces arise that are really lively”.”Quite funny, because you have, let’s say, the touristic entertainmentcentre and the normal entertainment centre for inhabitants of Amsterdam, forpeople who are living in Amsterdam”Lastly, anothermentioned aspect as a result of increasing tourism in Amsterdam is the adventof ‘cheap tourism’ and the corresponding effects of this type of tourism suchas, disrespectful tourists towards the city and their inhabitants, showinginappropriate behaviour reflected in the effects of too much drinking, peeing,noise nuisance and increasing waste on the streets. These effects affect theliveability of certain areas as well as locals’ feelings about what quality oflife meant for them.
“Whentourists would like to visit Amsterdam in order to enjoy the beauty of thecity, that would be a stimulus for keeping the city lively and well-maintained.But there is also a kind of tourism that is not interested in these aspects:tourism that has increased as a result of the advent of budget airlines”.”I knowpeople who are living in the old part of the city-centre. What they tell me isthat, from the moment that Ryanair installed their base at Schiphol, it is veryappealing to travel from the United Kingdom to Amsterdam in order to spend theweekend.
People are coming on Saturday to Amsterdam, together with a few mates,visit the Wallen, smoke grass, drink heavily and save money by not booking ahotel. On Sunday they are flying back home again”ConclusionCultural tourism in cities is oftenseen as a tool to showcase a destinations’ unique cultural characteristics to awide audience. However, for many inhabitants the positive effects of tourismare increasingly being overshadowed by the negative ones, especially inEuropean urban destinations such as Amsterdam.
Tourism carrying capacity hasbeen reached and for some, the negative effects have a substantial impact ondaily routines.In the years to come,cultural tourism is expected to be growing in Amsterdam. Consequently, to retainor improve quality of life of locals in the city-centre, the municipality ofAmsterdam could think of implementing more specific sustainable measures to balanceliveability and increasing tourism, wherelocals and tourists are able to interconnect with each other, wherehigh-quality tourism is being promoted and where liveability of locals will beenhanced and maintained. However, while the results gave insight in howinhabitants living in the city-centre of Amsterdam experienced tourism in theircity in 2015, further research is needed in order to see if inhabitants stillexperience tourism in the same way in 2018, or if their opinions towardstourism have changed.