Home > Publicaties > Tourist shops; what exactly do we mean by that?

Tourist shops; what exactly do we mean by that?

20 July 2021 | Onderzoek
Iris Hagemans

“As a result of increasing tourism, retail and hospitality in Amsterdam’s city center is turning into a monoculture of low-value, tourist-oriented businesses”.

Anyone who has followed the Amsterdam news in recent years will have heard and read alarming reports along these lines. There seems to be a widely shared view that tourism is causing changes in consumer landscapes that are making the inner city less attractive to Amsterdam’s residents. Yet this development is a lot less obvious than it seems at first glance, especially if you look in a little more detail at businesses, the target groups they serve and the strategies they use to respond to changes in demand. This was the message I wanted to convey with my presentation in the science carousel of the Reinvent Tourism Festival on Tuesday, June 9. The central question therefore was: What exactly do we mean when we talk about a monoculture of tourist stores?

Where do tourists shop?

For my research on the effects of tourism on shopping areas, I have interviewed entrepreneurs in Amsterdam’s inner city. I would like to understand from their perspective what kind of changes they experience when tourism increases and how they respond to it. Some of the findings caught me off guard. Although I strive to look at changes in retail landscapes as objectively as possible, I actually turned out to have some preconceived notions about tourism and shopping areas myself. I decided to take the opportunity to share some of the outcomes that had surprised me and revealed some preconceptions in my own research. For example, I met with the owner of a night shop, as I had expected this to be a store that mostly caters to tourists. However, the owner told me that before the Corona crisis, local residents made up 60% of his customers. On the other hand, I expected the owners of a pet store to receive mostly local residents, but they told me that tourists also shop there looking for souvenirs for the dog or cat that stays at home.

How do entrepreneurs adapt to tourists?  

In addition to the target groups of various stores and restaurants, I was surprised by findings about the ways in which entrepreneurs adapt to a growing number of tourists in the street and the considerations they make in doing so. Most importantly, I found a large variety of ways to respond to increasing tourism. In most cases, this cannot be described as standardization or cuts in quality. Business owners often add additional products to their offer, or change the proportions. For example, the owner of a clothing store told us that she started to stock more scarves and hats because this better suits the demand of visitors, and a confectioner started to sell less tompouces and more brownies. Quality remains high on the agenda for many entrepreneurs, however, precisely because tourists demand it. Among residents, the forementioned confectioner experiences a lot of competition from supermarkets that also sell pastries. However, tourists are willing to pay a little extra for an artisanal product and an attractive atmosphere. Moreover, when there is a contradiction between what appeals to tourists and what appeals to residents, many entrepreneurs find their relationship with the neighborhood important enough to accommodate the resident where possible.

Why is it important to know more about this?

These findings nuance the picture of tourist stores. Simply describing these entrepreneurs as a low-quality monoculture is clearly too short-sighted. Having spoken to inner city business owners, this image feels especially unjust and unfair. In addition, I think this negative perception can also be harmful. First, it limits the opportunities that people see to keep the downtown shopping offer attractive for both residents and visitors. When entrepreneurs are seen as profiteers, out to exploit and degrade the city center, this leads to more repressive measures, such as a ban, or more expensive measures, such as real estate purchases. It might be worthwhile to consider whether similar results could be achieved by working together with entrepreneurs. Secondly, many entrepreneurs indicated that they were bothered by the negative perception of retail and hospitality in the inner city and the repressive measures against tourist shops. Several entrepreneurs were even thinking about quitting or relocating their businesses. It would be a shame if Amsterdam would lose its driven, committed, local entrepreneurs because of this.

About the research project
Iris Hagemans is conducting a PhD research on this issue in the inner city of Amsterdam. Through the project “Future-proof balance” the HvA contributes to the ambitious policy objective of promoting a better balanced shopping landscape. Read more about her research here.

Iris Hagemans
Iris Hagemans has been working as a researcher at the research group Digital Commerce and Emerging Technologies for Business at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences since 2018. She is working on a PhD within the research project ‘Futureproof Equilibrium – Finding a balance between diverging interests’ about consumption spaces in Amsterdam. Within this project, Iris focuses on the effects of tourism on shopping spaces. Using quantitative data, she establishes to what extent and in what ways shopping streets in Amsterdam have changed since 2005 as a consequence of increasing tourism. Using qualitative methods, she identifies what factors cause business owners to adjust to increasing tourism. Finally, as one of the goals of the research project, she contributes to the ambitious goal to create a better balanced consumption landscape through collaboration with local stakeholders. RESEARCH SUPPORT Iris can help you with questions about SPSS, R, excel, Qualtrics and use of data, as well as other questions about conducting quantitative and qualitative research. TOOLS Iris can help you with questions about: SPSS | R | Excel | Qualtrics


Geef een reactie op deze publicatie

Cmihva.nl uses cookies to improve the website. By continuing within our site, you automatically accept our cookie policy. Privacy declaration.

There are no products in the cart!