Amsterdam wants to discourage 'alcohol, drugs and sex' tourism

Amsterdam wants to discourage 'alcohol, drugs and sex' tourism
Credit: Petr Kratochvil / Public Domain

With the number of overnight stays in Amsterdam rising sharply, possibly exceeding 18 million this year, Dutch authorities are cracking down on tourists who "only come to the city for alcohol, drugs and sex."

The City Council of Amsterdam will soon be pushing for a series of tough measures to curb drug and nightlife tourism.

Pubs and brothels closing earlier, anti-addiction campaigns and a ban on smoking weed in public: Amsterdam wants to curb nightlife tourism – particularly international tourists.

After a quieter period due to the pandemic, nightlife tourism in Amsterdam is picking up sharply. In the months of July, August and September, more tourists stayed overnight in the Netherlands than before Covid-19, and most went to Amsterdam.

The 18 million mark of overnight stays in Amsterdam will likely be passed this year. From 2024, more than 20 million tourists are expected to visit the canal side city every year. Residents have been complaining for years about the nuisance caused by expanding tourism.

Earlier closing times and bans

The Amsterdam City Council previously determined that additional measures should be put in place if the number of overnight stays per year would exceed 18 million. City Councillor for Economic Affairs Sofyan Mbarki presented his plans for just that on Thursday.

To curb nightlife tourism, Mbarki wants to see, among other things, the catering establishments and brothels in the prostitution district "de Wallen" closing earlier. There would also be a ban on smoking joints in some parts of the city centre, with no more drugs allowed on the streets.

The city also wants to discourage bachelor parties that cause nuisance and organised pub crawls, limiting the number of river cruises on its famous canals are also being looked at.

There will also be a "targeted, digital dissuasion campaign" for tourists who "want to get loose" and "only come to Amsterdam for alcohol, drugs and sex." The advertising campaign to discourage this type of tourism would primarily target British tourists, but would later be extended to tourists from other countries and regions.

Liveability over growth

However, for the time being, there are no concrete discussions on installing entrance gates at the Red Light District, or an increase in tourism taxes.

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"Amsterdam is a metropolis and that includes bustle and liveliness, but to keep our city liveable, we must now choose to limit it instead of irresponsible growth," Mbarki wrote in a letter to the city council.

The City Council must first approve the plans. It is not yet clear when the measures would take effect.

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