Amsterdam’s Last Floating Florist Just Closed, Denouncing Overtourism
Amsterdam’s floating flower market, the Bloemenmarkt, is comprised of flower shops located inside a row of floating barges. Or, at least, it used to. The tradition that dates back to the days when flowers arrived into the city from the countryside by way of the canals is going the way of dinosaurs, and apparently it’s thanks to overtourism.
The last floating florist at the Bloemenmarkt, Michael Saarlos, will be the last of his family to be selling flowers on the Singel canal — something they have been doing since 1943. According to him, crowds of camera-toting visitors have been blocking out serious customers, and cheap tourist-focused stalls selling magnets, clogs, and plastic tulips have been replacing the flowers shops.
Saarlos told Dutch newspaper De Trouw, “I have had enough of all the tourists who ruin my trade. If they are here with a group, I can no longer see my own customers.” Indeed, Amsterdam fields a massive number of tourists, and that number is increasing each year. An estimated 18.5 million people will visit the city this year, and by 2025, 23 million yearly tourists are projected.
Saarlos blames not only tourists, but also Amsterdam’s central borough council for failing to enforce the rule stating that only 25 percent of any stall can be used to sell non-plant related products. He also blames the increasing number of budget flights that make it easier for tourists to descend on his city in unsustainable numbers. “Those cheap flights flood the whole of Europe,” he said. “All day long the florist has to shout what I’ve written on the signs: ‘Do not photograph!’”
Amsterdam has been dealing with an overtourism problem for some time and is slowly taking measures to reduce the disturbance that too many visitors to the city creates. In December 2018, the city removed the “I amsterdam’ sign from Museum Square, and last March, the city banned guided tours of the red-light district. Previous measures include introducing tougher regulations on Airbnb, implementing a seven percent tourist tax, and restricting development of new hotels and tourist-centric shops.
H/T: The Guardian