Amsterdam Mayor Moves to Ban Tourists Buying Cannabis

Mayor Femke Halsema is on the warpath to “clean up” Amsterdam, suggesting a radical change to the city’s image by restricting tourist access to cannabis and adjusting sex work legislation.

Despite offering a plethora of tourist sites of both historical and cultural value, Amsterdam is still best known for its “policy of tolerance” (gedoogbeleid) towards cannabis and sex work.

Halsema is looking to deal with the paradox of gedoogbeleid after a recent survey, commissioned by the mayor, revealed that 30-50% of tourists would be less likely to visit if they couldn’t access weed, a figure that may win political backing for Halsema.

With a plan to address sex work legislation and tourist access to cannabis, the move could drastically reduce the 17 million visitors each year and provide the city with some much-needed relief from foreign visitors.

With a population of 1.1 million, locals are beginning to feel “overrun” by tourism, with the Netherlands Tourist Board no longer promoting its country as a destination.

In its report, the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (NBTC) warned about the pressures that tourism has on liveability, acknowledging that “more is not always better”.

Although it may be merely an issue of some regions of the country not benefitting from “the opportunities and socio-economic boost tourism can offer.”

Alongside suggestions by the mayor to curb cannabis access, and amend sex work legislation, the Tourism Board has tabled a “tourist tax” to “discourage” overcrowding and have visitors contribute more to the local community.

Unfortunately, the Board also suggested that “if all else fails, the attractions they are visiting may have to be closed down.’

As did the Amsterdam council in removing the “I amsterdam” sign from outside the Rijksmuseum in the Dutch capital back in December 2018, citing the decision as removing “a symbol for mass tourism.”