Amsterdam Has a New Solution to Overtourism: Marry an Amsterdammer for a Day

Jun 7, 2019

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Denizens of Amsterdam have made one thing clear: They are sick of hoards of disrespectful tourists.

Overtourism has been wreaking havoc on the city. As a result, Amsterdam has banned tours of its famous Red Light District, removed one of its most famous photo ops, has closed the last of its iconic floating florists and even stopped promoting tourism in the city all together.

Now, Amsterdam has a new plan to deal with the more than 19 million tourists who bombard the Dutch capital each year: marry them. Well, at least for the day.

The new nuptial initiative is to help counteract the negative effects of the city’s severe overcrowding. Tourists are paired up with a volunteer Amsterdam citizen who will “marry” them (yes, there are even speedy, faux wedding ceremonies in the city’s Latin Quarter), show them around town and help them discover insightful local experiences over tourist traps. The “Marry an Amsterdammer” program was started by the city’s Untourist Movement, a group whose mission is, in part,  to get tourists to improve the city — not trash it.

“It’s a bit of a pity if everybody just remains in their own world and does the standard tourist thing when we could be meeting each other, connecting with people from other cultures and meeting the challenges of mankind together,” Elena Simons, a leader of the Untourist Movement, told Telegraph Travel, which first reported the “marriage” program.

Some of the activities “betrothed” tourists will participate in include plastic fishing in canals, a “feed the Dutch” picnic and “laughing with locals,” the latter of which is a meetup between visitors and city residents. The activities are designed to be a helpful twist on traditional sightseeing.

“Plastic fishing is an alternative to your canal ride,” Simons explained to the Telegraph. “You get nets, go out on a boat and fish for plastic, which is recycled into furniture. It helps against the build-up of plastic in the oceans and makes our city prettier — at the same time tourists get their canal ride.”

The Untourist Movement is also reportedly being backed by hotels and tour groups in Amsterdam, and officially launched on 5 June.

“There’s a whole menu of options, but the essence of them all is that tourists can make a positive contribution while they are here and in doing so, make their visit all the more gratifying,” Simons said. “There’s a lot of negativity about tourists at the moment. We are working on this positive option.”

Featured photo by JovanaT/Getty Images.

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