‘Party city’ Amsterdam to crack down on tourists

Updated 17 May 2018
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‘Party city’ Amsterdam to crack down on tourists

  • Amsterdam is first and foremost 'a city to live in and to do business'
  • In some swamped neighborhoods a total ban on holiday rentals may be introduced

THE HAGUE: Amsterdam is seeking to contain the flood of tourists swamping the city, with the incoming council proposing a series of tough measures and plans to hike tourism taxes.
Some 18 million tourists visit Amsterdam every year — more than the entire population of the Netherlands — and local residents have become increasingly fed-up at the deluge.
The city’s picturesque narrow streets and canals now sag year round under the weight of all the visitors, including increasing numbers of raucous and unruly stag and hen parties.
Under a plan “to seek a new balance” put forward by the four parties forming the city’s next coalition council, popular activities like beer-bikes and boozy boat trips will be sharply curtailed.
“Tourism is part of the international culture of Amsterdam, which we should continue to cherish,” the plan says, a copy of which was obtained Thursday by AFP.
But due to “nuisance, crowds and rubbish, some neighborhoods are under extreme pressure.”
Amsterdam is first and foremost “a city to live in and to do business,” the plan says, adding “it is only secondly a tourist destination.”
From 2019 tourist taxes will be hiked to 7.0 percent, while the city will also look at ways to cut back on the number of hotel rooms.
In some swamped neighborhoods a total ban on holiday rentals may be introduced, and plans for a new passenger terminal for large cruise ships will be scrapped.
“We are looking for an alternative location outside of Amsterdam,” the plan says.
The city already announced in January that it would impose a new 30-day curb on the renting of private homes via websites like online booking giant Airbnb from next year. And this will be strictly enforced, the parties pledged.


Solomon Islands’ forests felled fast to feed China demand — Global Witness

Updated 8 min 2 sec ago
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Solomon Islands’ forests felled fast to feed China demand — Global Witness

  • Export volumes of the archipelago’s single largest export commodity leapt more than 20 percent to just over 3 million cubic meters in 2017
  • Global Witness said this was more than 19 times higher than sustainable levels
SYDNEY, Australia: The South Pacific nation of the Solomon Islands is felling its tropical forests at nearly 20 times a sustainable rate, according to research by an environmental group published on Thursday, driven by insatiable Chinese demand for its lumber.
Export volumes of the archipelago’s single largest export commodity leapt more than 20 percent to just over 3 million cubic meters in 2017, central bank figures show, worth $3 billion Solomon Islands dollars ($378 million).
Environmental and rights group Global Witness said this was more than 19 times higher than sustainable levels, and if continued could denude the country and soon exhaust the single biggest contributor to the Solomons’ economic growth.
Deforestation also removes wild fruits and vegetables that are a local food source and destroys the habitats of animals.
Global Witness’ analysis of import data also found that the overwhelming majority of the lumber was sent to China, the world’s top importer of timber, which it said underscored the urgency for Beijing to regulate imports and probe their origins.
“The scale of the logging is so unsustainable that natural forests will be exhausted very soon if nothing changes,” Beibei Yin, who led the research team that compiled the report, told Reuters by phone from London where Global Witness is based.
“The Chinese companies which import most of the wood are so significant that if all of them together stop buying there is still a chance to revert back,” she said.
Global Witness took 155,000 cubic meters as a sustainable log export volume from the Solomons, which is the lowest but most recently calculated of several government and expert analyzes, with the highest being approximately 300,000.
It gave no date of its own for the possible exhaustion of forests but cited a preliminary estimate of 2036 which was made in 2011 by the Solomons’ forestry ministry.
The Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s office directed Reuters to the secretary for the Forestry Minister, who did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
China’s commerce ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
The Solomon Islands has more than 2.2 million hectares (5.4 million acres) of forest covering approximately 80 percent of its land area, which is spread over some 990 islands.
Though the country’s forestry ministry has previously said it had toughened regulations to combat illegal logging, Global Witness said a lack of enforcement capacity increased the risk of loggers cutting more than permitted.
Global Witness’ satellite analysis of logging roads showed 669 km (416 miles) lying above 400 m (1,300 feet) elevation, where logging is nominally restricted.
Interpol estimates the global trade in illegal lumber to be worth more than $50 billion annually. ($1 = 7.9381 Solomon Islands dollars) (Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY; additional reporting by Elias Glenn in BEIJING Editing by James Dalgleish)