Amsterdam has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With origins dating back to at least the 12th century, the capital city of the Netherlands offers beautiful architecture, canals, art, the Red Light district, coffee shops (which are really “coffee and cannabis” shops), and much more. It’s also considered to be one of the safest cities in the world.
With all of that going for it, thanks to cheap flights, Amsterdam was seeing as many as 19 million tourists per year (in 2018) and it was strongly believed that number would keep going up. Considering that Amsterdam’s “touristy” part is pretty compact, that’s a lot of people in a relatively small space. Especially when lots of them tend to be younger tourists (18 to 24) who are there for the recreational activities the city is famous for, and wind up drinking enough to make them loud, boisterous, and eventually sometimes urinate and vomit in the streets.
It’s called “party tourism” and it’s been bad enough where residents were moving out of the area.
In the years before COVID, Amsterdam had already taken some measures to control its tourism. Calling it “City in Balance,” they curtailed the building of places that appealed to tourists, such as new hotels, souvenir shops, ticket sales outlets and cheese shops, as well as increased taxes. They put strict limits on Airbnbs, stopped walking tours in the Red Light District, and capped capacity at the city’s Schiphol Airport.
But it was still crazy busy and just….crazy. And not really what the city wanted for itself.
COVID, of course, has temporarily halted tourism in Amsterdam. But the city’s government is apparently making good use of its time of “tourism hibernation.”
To backtrack a little, as per CNN, city officials conducted a survey in 2019 that questioned 1,100 international visitors to Amsterdam’s Red Light District (one of the destinations in the city that’s “too popular”) who were between the ages of 18 and 35. 57% of them said the city’s coffeeshops were an important part of them visiting the city. The survey also asked what if they closed the coffeeshops? 34% responded that they wouldn’t visit as often, and 11% said they wouldn’t visit Amsterdam anymore.
So the city’s mayor has recently released a plan so that only residents of the Netherlands would be allowed to purchase small amounts of cannabis products at Amsterdam’s coffeeshops (possession of fewer than 5 grams is legal in the Netherlands). Tourists, on the other hand, would not.
So shut down the “soft drug tourism” and a bunch of the tourists, who are only going for access to the marijuana, won’t come. Perfect! And what’s more, the city’s police and prosecutors are backing the proposal.
Similar rules have been effect in other Dutch cities for 8 or so years, but Amsterdam was allowed an exception at the time. I guess they realized in 20/20 hindsight that may not have been the best idea.
In a statement, mayor Femke Halsema said, “Amsterdam is an international city and we wish to attract tourists, but for its richness, beauty and cultural institutions.”
Anyway, the new rules, if they’re adopted, would be introduced via a phased approach in 2022.
The stoners will not be pleased.
Feature Photo: Pixabay
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary