Thursday 04 March 2021

Amsterdam can ban new tourist shops, highest Dutch court rules

Part of Amsterdam’s red light district, now a tourist-free zone. Photo:

Amsterdam can continue to ban new shops aimed at tourists from the city centre, the highest Dutch administrative court said on Wednesday.

Several chains, including Tours&Tickets and Amsterdam Cheese Company had gone to court in an effort to overturn the ban, which was implemented in 2017.

Since then, no new waffle companies, bike hire firms or souvenir shops have been allowed to set up in business under city centre zoning laws. The city made the move in response to locals’ concerns that every sort of retailer not aimed at tourists or fast food was being squeezed out.

The companies say the rule conflicts with European directives on services. However,  the Council of State said that the city can take action if it considers the move to be in the interests of the people who live and work in Amsterdam.

Shops which opened before 2017 are not affected.


Research by local Amsterdam media suggests as many as 280 city centre stores may be targeted at tourists. The city has been grappling with over-tourism for the past few years.

Amsterdam is also exploring how to make cannabis less of a tourist attraction and, at the same time, crack down on the illegal supply chain.

City research showed cannabis cafes are a major factor in encouraging the under-35s to come to Amsterdam, with two-thirds visiting them to use cannabis.

The coronavirus epidemic has reduced tourism to virtually zero, closing tourist shops and red light windows throughout the city centre.

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