Amsterdam wants ships to moor less, votes to move terminal out of city in latest hit to tourism

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AMSTERDAM — Amsterdam wants to move a cruise liner terminal out of the heart of the historic capital city as the latest step in its ongoing battle against pollution and hordes of tourists clogging its narrow, cobbled streets.

The Dutch capital is one of the many picturesque European cities — from Rome to Venice to Paris — grappling with how to manage visitor numbers that are again soaring in the aftermath of shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.

Aldermen at Amsterdam’s municipality voted Thursday in favor of a motion calling on the city to move the terminal away from its current location close to the central rail station.

“A clear decision has been made by the council that the cruise (terminal) should leave the city,” Ilana Rooderkerk, leader of the centrist D66 party in Amsterdam, told The Associated Press in an email on Friday. “The municipal executive of Amsterdam is now going to work on how to implement it. In any case, as far as we are concerned, large ships no longer moor in the city center of Amsterdam.”

Dick de Graaff, director of Cruise Port Amsterdam that operates the terminal in the city center, told the AP the company had taken note of the vote and is awaiting the municipality’s next move.

“There is no immediate closing of the terminal. The council’s call is to relocate the terminal – and we await a follow up from the alderman on investigations,” he wrote in an email response.

De Graaff said that the Amsterdam terminal expects 114 ships to stop there this year and 130 next year.

The vote is the latest step in the Dutch capital’s long-running campaign to reduce the impact of tourism. Other measures include banning people from smoking weed in the narrow streets of its red light district and a proposal to move out of the city center many of the windows where scantily-clad prostitutes stand.

Earlier this year, Amsterdam even launched a campaign titled, “Stay Away,” against what it described as nuisance tourism.

“Visitors will remain welcome, but not if they misbehave and cause nuisance. In that case we as a city will say: rather not, stay away,” Deputy Mayor Sofyan Mbarki said in a statement at the time.

For Rooderkerk, banning cruise ships is about more than just reining in tourism.

“The polluting cruise does not match the sustainable ambitions of our city,” she tweeted after the vote.

She said that towering cruise ships sailing into Amsterdam also prevent construction of a second bridge over the waterway to link the city with its fast-growing northern suburbs.

Cruise liners are not the only mode of transport facing restrictions in Amsterdam. The national government also has announced plans to cut the number of flights at Schiphol Airport, the busy aviation hub that serves the city.

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Associated Press writer Mike Corder in The Hague contributed.

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