Amsterdam looks to bar foreign visitors from buying cannabis
Mayor cites survey of tourists in the Wallen and Singel as she looks to clean up overcrowded red-light areas
The survey of foreign visitors to the Singel area found 34% would come less often to Amsterdam if they were not allowed to buy cannabis from the coffee shops. Photograph: Alamy
The mayor of Amsterdam has sought to win political backing for her cleanup of overcrowded red-light areas by revealing that a third of foreign tourists and nearly half of Britons would be less likely to visit the city again if they were barred from buying cannabis in the coffee shops.
Home to 1.1 million people, the city attracts more than 17 million visitors a year. The municipality is particularly keen to dissuade foreign visitors from taking advantage of gedoogbeleid, “policy of tolerance”, towards cannabis.
The survey by Amsterdam’s research, information and statistics office suggests that 34% of all those who visit the Wallen and Singel areas – which have a concentration of red-light activities and coffee shops – would come less often to the city if foreigners were not allowed to buy cannabis from the coffee shops, while 11% would never come again.
Of the British visitors surveyed, 42% said they would return to Amsterdam less often.
Among respondents of all nationalities, 40% said they would no longer use “hashish or weed” on their visits if such a ban was enforced.
The 100 visitors to the Wallen and nearby Singel surveyed were aged between 18 and 35, the majority of whom (57%) said they counted coffee shops as playing an important role in their choice to come to Amsterdam.
Beyond the city’s canal district becoming overly populated by tourists, and permeated by what is seen as an increasingly seedy culture, Halsema is seeking to deal with the paradox of the Dutch tolerance policy.
While licensed coffee shops are allowed to sell cannabis from their premises, production of the drug is illegal. The result is that the coffee shops often deal at the “back door” with organised crime gangs.
Separately on Thursday, Amsterdam city hall said group tours of the main Wallen red-light district and other areas of the capital containing sex workers’ windows would be formally banned from 1 April, while guided tours elsewhere in the centre would require a permit.
Victor Everhardt, deputy mayor for economic affairs, said red-light district tours had been outlawed because it was “disrespectful to treat sex workers as a tourist attraction”. Other tours must “adhere to new, stricter rules to prevent disruption for residents and businesses”.
For complete story go to https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/13/amsterdam-looks-to-bar-foreign-visitors-from-buying-cannabis-mayor-tourists-red-light-district