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European tourism chief says Ryanair and Airbnb travellers are 'destroying' cities

Amsterdam Marketing CEO Frans van der Avert has suggested that a glut of visitors is making historic European cities less ‘livable’.

Oktoberfest 2014 Source: DPA/PA Images

A PROMINENT DUTCH tourism executive says that Ryanair and Airbnb tourism is ‘destroying’ European cities.

Amsterdam Marketing chief executive Frans van der Avert has said that “cities are dying from tourism”. “No one will be living in the historic centres any more.”

Van der Avert, addressing the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne, Switzerland, said that “a lot of smaller historic cities in Europe are getting destroyed by visitors”, according to a report on Travelweekly.co.uk.

He said that Amsterdam no longer wants to increase the number of visitors to the city, but rather “want(s) to increase the quality of visitors”.

“We want people who are interested in the city, not who want it as a backdrop for a party.”

We see lots of visitors with no respect for the character of the city. Low cost carriers create a problem. Ryanair – they are the loudest.

He said that Amsterdam locals are distinctly unimpressed with being outnumbered by 17 million visitors each year in their own city. Amsterdam has a population of roughly 800,000.

avert Frans van der Avert Source: LinkedIn

Irish t0urism, by comparison, had its best ever year in 2016 with more than 9 million visitors from abroad, almost twice the national population.

“When you say to local people ‘tourism is about jobs’ they say ‘I don’t care’,” he said.

They are voters and they say ‘the visitors have to go’.

Van der Avert reserved possibly his deepest scorn for Airbnb rentals.

Airbnb, one of the largest travel websites in the world, sees travellers either renting someone else’s home, or a part thereof for what is often seen as lower-than-market-rate prices.

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Last year Airbnb hosts made €52 million in Dublin alone.

The tax status of such rentals has been the subject of much scrutiny here in recent times, with the suggestion that such enterprises are causing havoc with the more traditional accommodation outlets like hotels and hostels.

“The sharing economy is really a big threat. Airbnb is a billion-dollar company that is destroying cities,” he said.

Amsterdam Marketing works for residents, businesses and visitors. We believe there has to be a balance. The city has to be liveable.
But the balance is going. Visitors are getting more important. Business and residents are being squeezed.

Amsterdam has backed up such concerns by introducing more than 70 measures in recent times to combat tourist overcrowding according to van der Avert, including closing the city’s cruise terminal and putting block on the building of new hotels in the city.

Read: French election frontrunner Emmanuel Macron takes aim at Ireland’s corporate tax rate

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