Amsterdam’s Last Floating Florist Is Closing Due to Overtourism

Apr 19, 2019

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The last florist at Amsterdam’s floating flower market is shutting its doors, according to Dutch newspaper, De Trouw. And overtourism is to blame.

A colorful and fragrant fixture on Amsterdam’s Singel Canal, the Bloemenmarkt claims the distinction of being the world’s only floating flower market. But sadly, it’s not what it used to be. Though the stalls are now on fixed barges, the market dates back to 1862, when gardeners from the surrounding countryside would sell their flowers on boats floating in the Amstel River.

According to De Trouw, Michael Saarloos — the last floating florist in Amsterdam — will be the final member of his family to sell at the Bloemenmarkt. Sick and tired of the tourists that overrun the market, he will be shutting down the family-run shop, which has been there since 1943.

“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,” Saarloos told De Trouw.

(Photo by Schöning/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(Photo by Schöning/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

If you’ve been to Amsterdam recently, you can probably understand his frustration. I was there just a few days ago, and had to weave my way through the hordes of tourists crowding the Bloemenmarkt in order to get back to Hotel de l’Europe, where I was staying. Aside from packaged tulip bulbs, the market’s stalls were filled with floral-themed souvenirs for sale, such as wooden tulips, magnets and other cheap tchotchkes — another thing that irks Saarloos.

City council rules state that no more than 25% of a stall’s wares can be devoted to non-plant-related products, but according to Saarloos, “No one ever enforces the rule.”

A representative for Amsterdam&Partners, the city’s tourism board, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson with the tourism board told me on another occasion how they are working to combat overtourism in the city.

“It is essential to broaden the perception of Amsterdam Area’s diversity to manage visitor’s traffic and avoid overcrowding in the city centre,” a press officer told me in the days leading up to my visit.

(Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images)

According to Matador Network, an estimated 18.5 million tourists will visit Amsterdam this year, and that figure is expected to rise to 23 million by 2025. To put that into perspective, Amsterdam’s population is less than 1 million.

Just last month, the mayor’s office banned tours of the Red Light District in an effort to prevent overcrowding. And late last year, the city’s iconic “Iamsterdam” sign was removed after more than a decade, in an effort to combat the mass tourism.

It’s not yet known what will become of the Bloemenmarkt.

Featured photo by Fadi Hage / Getty Images.

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