Amsterdam goes one step further to say good riddance to wild bachelor parties and rowdy tourists.
The popular destination is launching a new campaign this spring to reduce tourism-induced “nuisance and overcrowding” and build a more responsible visitor economy by 2035, according to the city’s tourism plan. The new campaign rules will impact some of the main tourist attractions: the red light district, river cruises, pub crawls and cafes.
City officials say they are tired of companies that “abuse the city’s image to promote it as a place of ‘unlimited opportunity'”, according to the Amsterdam Tourism Vision 2035. The city has long attracted tourists from around the world eager to experience its liberal laws around tolerance of soft drug prostitution.
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Officials say this has been “to the detriment of quality of life and accessibility for residents”.
“If we continue like this, I think in 10 or 20 years people won’t be living in the city center anymore,” Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema told Dutch News. “They will have moved because they can’t afford it, because the atmosphere is too mundane, because the city has become too dirty… in every way.”
The campaign aims to highlight the cultural richness of the city, such as historic canals and museums. There’s even an initiative called “Stay Away,” which actively discourages visitors who plan to “go wild” and not come.
This is not the first time that Amsterdam has cracked down on annoying tourists. In 2019, the city banned guided tours in the Red Light District. Last year, the mayor wanted to ban non-residents from participating in cafes.
Read below to find out how the new campaign could impact travellers.
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What are some of the proposed measures?
The tourism plan outlines measures which “have implications for overnight stays, overtourism and disruption”.
- Reduced opening hours of bars, clubs and the red light district on weekends. Bars and clubs will close at 2 a.m., with no new visitors allowed after 1 a.m., while sex work businesses will close at 3 a.m., three hours earlier than currently.
- Limit river cruises
- Extension of the ban on guided tours and pub crawls
- A ban on smoking cannabis in designated areas of the city center
- Restrictions on embarkation and disembarkation points for party boats in the red light district.
- Conversion of hotels for residential or office use
When will these new rules come into effect?
The campaign will launch this spring and the new rules are expected to be implemented in mid-May. But the overall rebranding of Amsterdam’s visitor economy will take place over the next 12 years by 2035.
Will Amsterdam limit the number of tourists?
Yes, the city seeks to act on the number of tourists staying the night. In 2019, more than 18.4 million overnight tourists came to Amsterdam. In 2021, an ordinance called “Amsterdam Tourism in Balance” was passed by the city council which capped the number of visitors at 20 million. If more than 18 million people come to Amsterdam, “the city executive is obliged to act” – this year the city expects many tourists to arrive.
Katheen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at email@example.com