Amsterdam has proposed a major package of measures to combat nuisance tourism as the city ‘welcomes’ its 18 millionth overnight guest this year, triggering a pledge to limit tourism numbers to 20 million.
Smoking cannabis on the street should be forbidden in tourist hot spots, there is a proposed crackdown on nuisance stag parties and by 2035, the city wants more hotel space to be converted to homes or offices.
City economics chief Sofyan Mbarki also wants to investigate banning cannabis sales in the red light district at the weekends, from 4pm on Thursday to Sunday, similar to an alcohol sale ban which has previously been imposed to limit nuisance.
The city proposes investigating the legal options for banning organised pub crawls and ‘sharpening’ regulations around Airbnb-style holiday rentals. Mediocre quality hotels will be encouraged to convert to homes and offices.
The measures are intended to send a sign to the world that Amsterdam does not welcome stag nights and nuisance tourists and that locals are determined to take back their city. The problem hit a peak in 2019, reduced in the pandemic, but is now back with a vengeance.
The plans, announced on Wednesday evening, include earlier closing times for restaurants, bars and brothels in the red light district, and a public ‘stay away’ campaign to be launched in 2023 to counter low-grade tourism.
The city is also considering raising the tourist tax at peak times.
Mayor Femke Halsema has already said she wants to ban tourists from coffee shops and she has plans to move some brothel windows to an erotic centre. Officials are also looking into weeding out organised crime from tourist shops, cannabis cafes and other lucrative outlets targeting visitors.
Mbarki says he is working on a long-term vision, with all parties involved: locals, businesses, experts and trade associations.
‘If we love the city, we have to act now,’ he said in a press release. ‘Much has been done in recent years, but we need to do even more. Intervention is needed to counter the nuisance and overcrowding. Amsterdam is a metropolis and that means a lively and bustling city, but to keep our city liveable, we now have to opt for limits instead of irresponsible growth.’
Christian Democrat councillor Diederik Boomsma said the ban on cannabis smoking outdoors would send an important signal. ‘This is an important step towards discouraging drug use, getting rid of the status of Amsterdam as a drug capital, and reclaiming the city centre,’ he told Dutch News.
‘I have been arguing for this cannabis ban for seven years. When I first proposed it formally in 2016, nobody agreed. But finally other parties see the need. We have to take decisive action to reduce and discourage use of this dangerous drug, and send a strong signal to tourists: if you want to come to Amsterdam to use drugs: don’t! Just stay home or go somewhere else.’
The proposals will be put to the elected council during a city council meeting on December 21.
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