Amsterdam’s historic canal boats are being driven off the waterways by huge vessels filled with drunken, weed-smoking tourists, their owners have claimed.
The council of the Dutch capital recently moved to limit the total number of boats allowed in the canal ring, a Unesco world heritage site, to 550.
Although 155 slots have been reserved for so-called historic boats, they still have to compete in a lottery for these places, which means that businesses that have built up a clientele serving private dinners, weddings and funerals, have to compete with newcomers and big boat owners for the right to remain on the water.
“I have two gentleman’s launches and one of them has lost the lottery in this round, the Kleijn Amsterdam, which dates from 1905,” said Nico Bax, who runs Classic Boat Dinners offering fine wine and dining to small groups.
Heritage organisations, boat owners and councillors have complained formally and more than 21,000 people have signed a petition protesting that the transport rules designed to limit over-tourism will drastically cut the wooden pleasure fleet.
Family firms that failed to win a spot in the first round of the lottery say they have effectively been put out of business.
Winning licenses in their place, they claim, are large tourist vessels described as “floating fish tanks”, where tourists can party to their heart’s content.
Johnas van Lammeren, a councillor for the local Party for the Animals, criticised the council for not moving to protect the romantic “gentleman’s launches”.
“What has simply not been looked at is where the nuisance comes from,” Mr Van Lammeren said.
“With passenger vessels, what causes nuisance are the huge, hop-on, hop-off boats that charge €20 for an hour of unlimited drinking, and also cause a lot of pollution.”
A spokesman for Amsterdam council said the policy was necessary to “prevent unbridled growth of the tour industry.”
Source: Telegraph UK
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