Amsterdam Launches ‘Stay Away’ Campaign To Deter These Types Of Tourists From Visiting


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Amsterdam will soon take measures to prevent certain types of tourists from visiting the city. The Dutch capital regularly sees upwards of 20 million tourists each year, making it one of Europe’s most popular destinations. The city’s liberal attitude towards sex, drugs, and alcohol has given it the reputation of a city where ‘anything goes. Tourists have taken advantage of that, and it has become problematic. Now, officials are attempting to take back the city for locals by telling some tourists to stay away.

an overhead photo of massive crowds of tourists along the canals in Amsterdam. Boats can bee seen in the canals

Amsterdam’s deputy Mayor Sofyan Mbarki has stressed the need to intervene. “Action is needed to prevent nuisance and overcrowding. Amsterdam is a world city, and bustle and liveliness come along with this, but to keep our city liveable, we need to choose limits instead of irresponsible growth.”

crowds of tourists gather in Amsterdam at night surrounded by neon signs and streetlights

The problem, as seen by officials, is that the activities of tourists are lowering the quality of life for residents. Amsterdam attracts many tourists wanting to partake in activities often deemed unsavory in their home countries. Their behavior often spills from the coffee shops and clubs into the streets causing an unpleasant living environment for locals.

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tourists visit a large square in Amsterdam underneath a sky full of clouds and birds

That combined with the sheer number of visitors who flock to the city has created a unique problem. Amsterdam is suffering from too many tourists, specifically too many of the types of tourists that they don’t want. In response, Amsterdam’s officials are launching a campaign, bluntly named ‘Stay Away,’ to make it clear who is unwelcome in the city.

In the spring of 2023 the ‘Stay Away’ campaign will attempt to curtail tourist numbers by disincentivizing many popular activities. The goal is to keep out the following types of tourists:

Tourists sit along a canal in Amsterdam with red lights glowing along the buildings as evening approaches

Cannabis And Drug Tourists

Amsterdam is famous for its coffee shops that allow customers to purchase and consume cannabis and other “soft drugs”. The cafés are so popular that in the city center alone there are 92! According to research, half of all tourists to Amsterdam plan to visit a coffee shop during their travels. 16% of visitors state that it is the main reason for their visit to Amsterdam.

Smokey cannabis coffee shop in Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination

To keep cannabis and drug tourists away the city has made some proposals. Regulations could include a ban on smoking cannabis on the street in tourist areas. Measures could even extend to banning sales of the popular drug in the red light district on weekend nights.

Batchelor Parties And Drunk Tourists

The streets of Amsterdam are one of the most popular destinations for bachelor parties in Europe. The city’s famed Red Light District is home to a lively bar scene and an accessible sex industry. Revolving groups of young men frequent the city with the expectation that they will have the time of their lives and often wreak havoc on the streets with their drunken debauchery which can get out of hand.

alcohol sign in amsterdam

The city plans to dissuade these types of tourists by mandating earlier closing times for bars and brothels, and by outlawing organized pub crawls.

Sex Tourists

Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and has been regulated by the Dutch government for over 20 years. That has made the city an international destination for sex tourism, which in turn has created a booming sex industry. Brothels, peep shows, strip clubs, and sex shops can be found all over the Red Light District.

Officials hope that plans for earlier closing times and restrictions on businesses within the Red Light District will let sex tourists know that they are no longer wanted in the city.

Too Many Tourists

In addition to discouraging the types of tourists that are unwanted, Amsterdam’s officials are also taking measures to combat over tourism. They are seeking to limit visitor numbers to 20 million by imposing a tourist cap. They also want to limit the city’s popular river cruises and guided group tours, tighten rules around short-term rentals, and potentially impose a tourist tax.

Amsterdam canals full of boats and people in orange during the celebration of kings day

While official plans won’t be determined until next week, the ‘Stay Away’ campaign is sure to make some tourists feel unwelcome.

What Type Of Tourists Are Welcome?

Tourists are still welcome in Amsterdam, however, these measures are meant to find a balance between tourism and the day-to-day lives of locals. Officials want to find a way for tourism to contribute positively to the city rather than undermining it. The goal is to bring in the right amount of tourists who can appreciate Amsterdam for its beauty, people, and unique cultural attractions.

Amsterdam canal with building reflecting in the water

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