Amsterdam Bans New Tourist Shops

So-called “Nutella Shops” are among the businesses now in the Dutch capital’s crosshairs.

No more bike rental shops, no more ticket agencies, no more fancy cheese—and absolutely no more Nutella. That’s the upshot of new rules approved in Amsterdam last week intended to halt the tourist takeover of its city center. Concerned that the urban core is losing its livability for locals, the city will ban new tourist-oriented businesses on every street within the city’s Singel Canal and on all main streets reaching out to the edge of its Canal Belt.


They will also restrict (without entirely banning) new openings of take-away food stores that specialize in fare bought mainly by visitors, such as ice cream parlors or candy stores, with particular attention to so-called “Nutella shops”—places that sell waffles and pancakes smeared with the nutty spread, whose presence has grown exponentially in central Amsterdam in recent years.


It’s hardly uncommon for cities to adopt planning guidelines for new businesses, but for a city that makes a major chunk of its living from visitors, the move still seems striking. So why is the city going so hard against bike rentals and take out?


The obvious answer is that it isn’t, really. While the city will look very closely at what it approves in the future, central Amsterdam is in fact packed with places to rent a two-wheeler or buy a cone, and doesn’t need more. That, in fact, is the point. So many businesses in the Dutch capital’s heart are now catering to people who don’t live there that the place risks turning into a theme park. This is a potential problem for any city popular with visitors. What makes Amsterdam perhaps more vulnerable than other cities is that, despite its international fame, it isn’t very big.


Housing only 821,000 people within its limits, Amsterdam’s photogenic core is quite small and can be walked from end to end within 30 minutes (less if you’re a fast walker). Cities as…

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