Amsterdam is attempting to deter “nuisance” tourists who visit the city for the sole purpose of sex, alcohol, and drugs. The new campaign has been dubbed, “Stay Away,” and will introduce a few new rules for the red light district, De Wallen, specifically, and are set to arrive in mid-May.
The new laws include a ban on smoking cannabis in the streets, tighter restrictions on alcohol sales, and earlier closing times for bars, clubs, and sex-work establishments. What this means is that the inner city won’t be able to sell alcohol after 4pm from Thursday to Sunday, and sex workers will have to close at 3am. In a similar vein to Sydney’s lockout laws, bars, restaurants, and cafes will have to close at 2am on weekdays, and 4am on Friday and Saturday. New customers also won’t be able to enter a bar after 1am.
The city said that “drinking alcohol on the street is also prohibited, and we have taken measures against street dealers.”
The reason for these new rules comes from local residents who believe that the city is a victim of mass tourism that exacerbates alcohol and drug abuse. These rules are intended to make “the atmosphere at night less menacing.”
The city council stated that, “Residents of the old town suffer a lot from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse in the street. Tourists also attract street drug dealers, who in turn cause crime and insecurity. Especially at night, the atmosphere can get grim.”
Amsterdam posits that its reputation as a “free and open” city has gotten out of hand and its negatively affecting local residents. In a statement made last year, Amsterdam Deputy Mayor, Sofyan Mbarki, said the kind of tourism in their city needs to change.
“Amsterdam is a metropolis and that includes bustle and liveliness, but to keep our city liveable we now have to opt for limitations instead of irresponsible growth,” he said.
There are other measures to reduce the number of Airbnb rentals, hotels, and river cruises. The aim is to bring annual overnight stays from the current 18 million per year to below 10 million.
As the mayor stated, “The aim of the discouragement campaign is to keep out visitors that we do not want. If we love the city, we must take action now. In recent months, I have talked to many different groups: residents, businesses, experts and interest groups. From these discussions, it has become clear that… intervention is needed.”