Young British men after a wild time told to stay away from Amsterdam
A criminal record isn’t normally the kind of souvenir tourists want to take home, but Amsterdam has launched a new campaign to warn nuisance Brits that this may be precisely what they get.
In a campaign geo-targeted to Britain, and focusing on men aged 18 to 35, Amsterdam wants search engine queries such as ‘stag party Amsterdam’, ‘cheap hotel Amsterdam’ and ‘pub crawl Amsterdam’ to bring up two sobering, English language videos.
The first warns tourists who are coming to the Dutch capital for a ‘a messy night and getting trashed’ that it could lead to arrest, a criminal record and ‘fewer prospects’, so they should ‘stay away’.
The second warns that those coming to take drugs might be in for a hospital trip, permanent health damage and a worried family – and so they should follow the same advice.
Sofyan Mbarki, economic affairs and inner city chief, said the city was taking a stand against nuisance tourism and ‘irresponsible’ growth: ‘Visitors are still welcome, but not if they misbehave and cause nuisance. As a city, we are saying: we’d rather not have this, so stay away,’ he said in a press statement.
The campaign, first plugged up in a new ‘vision for a visitor economy’ last year, will go with a series of measures such as bringing back the closing time for brothels from 6am to 3am and shutting bars at 2am, from this weekend. From May, cannabis smoking in public will be banned in central Amsterdam.
Councillors have already welcomed the measures as a stand against ‘glassy-eyed tourist zombies staggering about’.
There has been a dramatic change of tone from the years when the city advertised abroad for more tourists, while Dutch businesses promoted stag night jollies such as ‘anger management’ events smashing up cars. Last year, when tourist numbers were predicted to hit 20 million again, the city pledged to take preventative action.
The latest ‘stay away’ campaign, which echoes the tone of a previous marketing drive in 2018, will start with Britain, and then be expanded to the Netherlands and other countries. There will also be a ‘how to Amsterdam’ campaign on the streets, in hotel lobbies and with hosts reminding people of their manners.
But there has been a mixed reaction to the drive, with sex workers planning a protest on Thursday against earlier closing times and plans to partially move the red light district to an ‘erotic centre’ elsewhere.
Marco Lemmers, chief executive of Conscious Hotels, who is campaigning for responsible tourism within the industry, said he would prefer a positive campaign in the style of Switzerland, rather than a negative one.
‘It’s so negative,’ he said. ‘You can also present the image of the city in a positive way and attract people to come here. Would you like it if you were targeted on the internet with possible fines when planning to visit a destination because your relative or friend was looking earlier for a group holiday in that same place on your device? Has Amsterdam even thought of the potential collateral damage for the Netherlands as a destination as a whole?’
Diederik Boomsma, head of the local Christian Democrats, said he fully supported the videos and strict enforcement and fines for law-breaking tourists should follow – and preferably closure of the entire red light district.
‘Amsterdam needs to get rid of its image as a Walhalla for easily accessible drugs, prostitution and booze,’ he told Dutch News. ‘The city is not Ibiza beach but many tourists think the Wallen is a kind of adult amusement park. What would be good is to really enforce the laws we have.’
Els Iping, from the local campaign group Stop de Gekte [stop the madness], said residents are happy with every step taken. ‘It shows that the government realises that this cannot go on any longer and measures are needed,’ she told Dutch News. ‘But we would rather see an end to window prostitution as a tourist attraction and a non-residents ban in coffee shops. That would really help.’
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation