The city of Amsterdam is taking steps to address the issues caused by substance abuse and mass tourism in its famous red-light district. Mayor Femke Halsema has announced a ban on the smoking of marijuana on the streets, set to take effect in mid-May, in an effort to reduce the nuisance experienced by local residents.
Amsterdam Struggles with Balancing Tourist Misconduct and Residential Safety
As a popular European capital known for its liberal attitudes towards prostitution and drug use, Amsterdam has struggled with how accommodating the millions of tourists who visit each year while also ensuring the safety and peace of mind of its residents. The red-light district, a hub for legal prostitution, has become particularly problematic with residents excessively bothered by the crowds and disruptive behavior caused by substance abuse and mass tourism.
New Measures to Address Tourist Nuisance
In response, Amsterdam is introducing a package of measures aimed at cracking down on tourist nuisance. In addition to the ban on marijuana smoking on the streets, prostitution businesses will be required to close at 3 a.m., three hours earlier than the previous closing time, and cafes and restaurants must close at 2 a.m. If the ban on marijuana smoking does not have the desired effect, local authorities will also consider extending the ban to the terraces of coffee shops that are allowed to sell marijuana.
These new measures are the latest in a series of steps taken by Amsterdam to discourage certain types of tourists, including bans on businesses catering primarily to tourists, guided tours of the red-light district, and restrictions on the sale of alcohol.
The number of tourists visiting the Netherlands dropped significantly in 2020, with only 7 million visitors recorded during the pandemic, compared to 21.7 million in 2019, according to the World Bank. Amsterdam, with a population of approximately 820,000, hopes that these measures will help reduce disruptions and maintain a safe and peaceful atmosphere for residents.