<Fair City Amsterdam> [Nettime-nl] Joost de Vries: My Amsterdam is being un-created by mass tourism (The Guardian)

Paul Vogel paulv at bikkel.org
Mon Aug 13 20:22:26 CEST 2018

"Keep, nouveau riche lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. 
"Give me your stag parties, your bi-curious horny's, Your huddled masses 
yearning to breathe cannabis, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the wheeled suitcase homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my 
skirt beside the golden door!"

On Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 05:00:37PM +0200, Patrice Riemens wrote:
> FYI. Met dank aan Virginie Mamadouh.
> url:
> https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/08/amsterdam-ian-mcewan-mass-tourism-stag-parties-cities-europe
> My Amsterdam is being un-created by mass tourism
> By Joost de Vries  (The Guardian 08-08-2018)
> As the stag parties flood in, the Dutch flood out. Tourism???s changed not
> just the way we feel about our cities, but Europe
> The word on everyone???s lips is ???Venice???. It starts as a whisper, some
> time in early spring, when the lines in front of the Rijksmuseum get a
> little longer, and the weekend shopping crowds in the Negen Straatjes begin
> to test your bike-navigation skills. By the time it???s July those streets
> are flooded. You don???t even try steering through the crowds. You???d be
> like Moses, except that God is not on your side, the Red Sea will not part
> in your favour, and the crowds will wash you away: the middle-aged couples
> from the US and Germany, here for the museums; and the stag parties from
> Spain, Italy and the UK, here in their epic attempt to drink all the beer
> and smoke all the pot.
> You crash into a distracted tourist, and the whisper becomes a curse:
> Fucking Venice! (We like to swear in English)
> So you learn to take the long way round to your destination and skip entire
> areas of Amsterdam ??? which nevertheless means that, perhaps once every
> summer, you???ll be down on the pavement after crashing into a distracted
> tourist who walked in front of your bike, and the whisper becomes a curse:
> ???Fucking Venice!??? (The Dutch like to swear in English.)
> ???Venice???is shorthand for a city so flooded by tourists that it no longer
> feels like a city at all. In the famed 2013 Dutch documentary I Love Venice
> a tourist asks: ???At what time does Venice close???? It???s very funny,
> except, of course, that it is not funny at all.
> In his 1998 Booker-winning novel Amsterdam, Ian McEwan describes his
> protagonist walking down the Brouwersgracht thinking: ???Such a tolerant,
> open-minded, grown-up sort of place: the beautiful brick ??? apartments, the
> modest Van Gogh bridges, the understated street furniture, the intelligent,
> unstuffy-looking Dutch on their bikes with their level-headed children
> sitting behind. Even the shopkeepers looked like professors, the street
> sweepers like jazz musicians.??? Well, once upon a time, perhaps.
> This year Amsterdam???s 850,000 inhabitants will see an estimated 18.5
> million tourists flock to the city ??? up 11% on last year. By 2025, 23
> million are expected. Last week the city???s ombudsman condemned the red
> light district as no longer under government control at weekends. Criminals
> operate with impunity; the police can no longer protect citizens; ambulances
> struggle to reach victims on time. The narrow streets on the canals are
> simply too crowded. But at least, as McEwan noted, our street furniture
> remains understated.
> There are several ways to react. One is to leave town. A study shows that in
> the past five years 40% of couples relocated to smaller towns after their
> first child. Many feel this is no longer a city to raise kids. Another
> response is to try to make as much money off the tourists as you can. And so
> anything remotely connected to the city gets branded as such: the coastal
> town of Bloemendaal is ???Amsterdam beach??? (Bloemendaal is way outside
> Amsterdam); the 14th-century Muiderslot ???Amsterdam Castle??? (Muiden
> isn???t at all part of Amsterdam). It???s like calling Canterbury ???London
> Cathedral???, Liverpool ???London Harbour???, or Oxford ???London
> Hogwarts???.
> It is not just about the logistics of managing a crowded city. Mass tourism
> challenges the way we live. The Dutch have always been proud of their
> liberal laws, allowing the use of soft drugs and the legalisation of
> prostitution. We truly believed ourselves to be the ???tolerant,
> open-minded, grown-up??? people McEwan describes. But those ideas of
> personal freedom are under strain. And one reason is that activities
> connected to the tourism boom have grown to such an extent that they appear
> uncontrollable. The red light district is filled with women forced there by
> traffickers. The soft drugs market is so large that some legal experts
> describe the Netherlands as a de facto narco state, where one can produce
> and sell drugs with only the slightest chance of ever being apprehended.
> It???s Venice vice.
>  The soft drugs market ???is so large that some legal experts describe
> ???the Netherlands as a de facto narco state
> And then, in the midst of it all, comes this week in early August. There is
> no proper name for it, but all of a sudden it???s much easier to get a table
> in your favourite restaurant, and the best place to park your bike is no
> longer occupied. It feels like people are missing ??? and as it turns out,
> they are. More than 2 million Dutch have gone on holiday, all at the same
> time ??? fleeing the flood of tourists in Amsterdam, and becoming a flood
> themselves, and someone in the south of France will be writing the exact
> same article I???m writing now (bonjour!).
> That???s the whole point of complaining about tourism. Are you staying home
> this summer? If not, you are someone else???s tourist.
> But 21st-century mass tourism comes with a twist. In his 1958 essay Theory
> of Tourism, the German philosopher Hans Magnus Enzenberger contemplated the
> industry???s paradoxes. The tourist wants to find something new and unique,
> but will find only places already found, and mapped, by other tourists. So
> every tourist is a competitor: ???The untouched can only be experienced by
> touching it. It is important to be the first,??? he wrote, asking a pivotal
> question: ???Did we create tourism, or did it create us????
> Sixty years on, the question is no longer what tourism creates, but what it
> un-creates. Ever since budget airlines and Airbnb made travelling so much
> cheaper, and with Asia???s rising middle classes starting to holiday here,
> we???ve watched the industry claim large parts of our city, changing its
> social fabric, opening shops and restaurants that serve only visitors, not
> residents. Throughout Europe the same stores sell the same stuff to the same
> visitors. Tourism is the Great Equaliser, replacing national identity with
> global uniformity.
> Riding my bike, I don???t feel Amsterdam is being taken over by tourists: I
> simply don???t feel I???m in Amsterdam at all. Tourism???s changed not just
> the way we feel about our cities, but the way we feel about Europe. You can
> go to Paris or London and get a sense of repetition. Yes, the buildings are
> a bit different ??? and look, there???s the Eiffel Tower ??? but you are
> used to the shops, the coffee bars, the constant flow of visitors like you.
> An optimist might say: barriers are lowered, Europeans feel more alike, more
> at home in different countries.
> But you can argue the other way round: differences are fudged and
> camouflaged between countries, between regions. Just as Brexit shocked us,
> the electoral successes of political parties across Europe with plans for a
> Frexit or Nexit keep on surprising us. Weren???t we part of the same family?
> Aren???t we awfully alike?
> The great paradox of tourism is that it brings us closer physically, but
> that doesn???t always encourage us to connect with others??? culture,
> identity, or political debates. At high season we criss-cross each other in
> our millions: but is that enough to understand each other better?
> ??? Joost de Vries, a Dutch novelist, is author of The Republic
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