Amsterdam established a tax on cruise passengers effective January 1, 2019. The new tax of €8 ($9.12) applies to every cruise passenger over 3 years old per 24-hour period.
As reported by the LA Times, two cruise lines have cancelled port visits to Amsterdam because of the nominal tax. MSC Cruises and Cruise & Maritime Voyages canceled future stops.
The trade organization for the cruise industry, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), claims that the tax is “extremely disproportionate.” It threatened Amsterdam with cancellation by cruise lines which could result in a budget deficit of several million euros as a result of reduced fees collected by the Port of Amsterdam.
However, the only thing truly disproportionate is that the cruise industry pays virtually no U.S. taxes at all.
Amsterdam, like other popular European cities, is struggling with the heavy demands placed on the city by mass tourism. Amsterdam wants tourists to make a fair contribution to the city. Amsterdam’s website states that:
“. . . companies operating sea and river cruises should pay a tourist tax of 8 euros per passenger. This ‘day tripper tax’ will only apply to cruise passengers who do not live in Amsterdam and are only stopping over, not to passengers who are starting or ending a cruise in Amsterdam.”
Amsterdam is not the only city struggling with the influx of cruise tourism. There has been considerable news coverage of the “increasing hordes of tourists” descending on Venice every year.
Compare the crushing crowd of tourists in Venice which I photographed in 2016 during a family vacation (top) with the photo which I took when traveling alone there in 1977 (bottom).
The NewEurope newspaper states that:
After years threatening to regulate the number of visitors entering the city, which is constantly under the threat of sinking into the lagoon that it sits on, the Venetian government has decided that it will introduce an entry fee, or landing tax, of up to €10, depending on the season, for day-trippers arriving on cruise ships.
CLIA, which of course resists taxes of all types on cruise companies and their customers, expressed its disappointment with the new taxes. It tried to explain its refusal to honor the taxes by waxing historically:
“At the core of its history is Venice’s relationship with the sea. Ships have always been part of its identity and the cruise industry represents the modern manifestation of a centuries-old tradition.”
But the billion dollar monster cruise ships which tower over the city today could hardly have been imagined when Venice was built 500 years ago.
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Photos credit: Top – Venice (2016) – Jim Walker; middle – Venice (2016); bottom – Venice – Jim Walker (1977).