The most well-known of the “I Amsterdam” signs – there are actually three of them – was located on Museum Plein with the majestic backdrop of the world-famous Rijksmuseum behind but was removed at the end of 2018.

Having done its job – encouraging visitors from the busy centre to the recently regenerated cultural quarter of the city – it was considered by many to have become a victim of its own success, putting the officially sanctioned brand of Amsterdam on the global social media map but attracting low-spend visitors whose negative impact on the city outweighed their positive contribution.

To put this into context, in recent years tourism in Amsterdam’s heritage centre of canals and winding lanes has spiralled out of control, with numbers increasing by six million visitors in the five years from 2014 to 2019 with the figure standing at 20 million that year (Brighton’s 2019 figure was 11 million).

Previously residential areas of Amsterdam are now social wastelands of Airbnbs, tacky souvenir shops and over-priced bars with locals out-priced and pushed to the suburbs.

Attracted by cheap budget airline flights, the opportunity to openly indulge in soft drugs and the windows of the Red Light District, the streets have become overwhelmed with a visitor demographic that the living city can neither cope with nor wants.

Socially accepted drug use and legalised prostitution aside, an astute reader will note that many of the problems faced by Amsterdam are shared by Brighton and should be a concern to our public policy planners.

That’s not to say a marketing initiative such as the I Amsterdam didn’t fulfil its initial objectives. It just did it too well and contributed to unforeseen consequences.

It was just a small part of a concerted effort by both the City of Amsterdam and Visit Holland, the national tourist board, to expand their share of the global tourism cake.

We now have the benefit of hindsight, with the Amsterdam case study clearly available to act as a guide for a possible Brighton sign. There are many lessons we can learn in embracing the positives.

First, a Brighton sign should be moveable so as to act as a driver to suitable sites that desire – and can accommodate – more visitors. Regeneration areas such as Valley Gardens and the Madeira Terraces – acting as they do as gateways to London Road and Black Rock/Brighton Marina – immediately come to mind, rather than the more obvious locations of the beach between the piers or Brighton Station where increasing dwell time isn’t necessarily appropriate.

Looking to past successes of public art changing established patterns, such as the Brighton Snow Dogs trail, its evident that a sign would act as a driver for engagement, and thus potentially increased investment and economic growth, in under-utilised spaces.

Secondly, our sign shouldn’t be an off-the-shelf aesthetic rip-off of I Amsterdam as can be seen in umpteen tourism cities around the world where they’ve even replicated the typeface and colour scheme.

It should embrace the creativity and uniqueness of Brighton with input from artists, not just the city council and the gate-keepers of high culture in their lofty, well-funded eyries. Could it be a floating blimp, an environmentally friendly powered light box to soften the – at times – edgy experience of the night-time economy or even an-ever changing interactive light projection? How do we reflect and embrace the diversity and values of the city in physical form?

Thirdly, as a council-led project the sign needs to be financed sufficiently so as not to end up half-baked and over-hyped, thinking here of attractions from the i360 through to the Hove Plinth which over-promised and under-delivered.

We should not shy away from the involvement of our home-grown tourism sector and corporate sponsors with major stake holdings in the city – Land Sec, Standard Life, Amex – to co-own the design and build and provide maintenance to keep the sign in tip-top Instagrammable condition.

At a time for hard and long-reaching decisions and investments to respond to the post-Covid influenced decline, place-building initiatives such as a Brighton sign need to be a core part of the wider Brand Brighton strategy. Who are we as a city? What is the image we want to portray to the world as a place to live, work and play? How do we stay at the top of our game as a national and international visitor destination?

There is much to be gained from the sharing of best practice between cities and countries but we should go in with our eyes open, not only to the exciting benefits but also the unexpected negatives.