Going Dutch: Lessons in urban amenity from Amsterdam

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The famous canals of Amsterdam, where canal cruises are popular among tourists.

In the summer, the streets are filled with rowdy visitors drawn by the city’s reputation for sex, drugs and rock and roll. But at the same time, Amsterdam is also home to the average Dutch.

It’s a human theatre conducted against the gracious Golden Age backdrop, where over 7,600 buildings in the city centre alone are listed as “monuments”1. It’s a delicate balance, but for decades Amsterdam has somehow juggled the competing needs of tourists and locals alike.

Despite amassing over 11 million bednights in 2013 – a seven per cent increase from 20122 – Amsterdam has continued to rank highly on liveability surveys3. The volume of tourists visiting Amsterdam has the potential to disrupt the city’s housing market and push up real estate prices, but the authorities have actively worked to counter the fallout from tourism on local residents.


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