In an effort to clean up its image, Amsterdam aims to ban a major tourist attraction: its coffee shops.
Only Dutch residents will be allowed to enter cannabis-dealing outlets under a proposal from Mayor Femke Hellesma. The plan, supported by local police and prosecutors, aims to deal with the influx of hard drugs and organized crime associated with the marijuana trade.
“The hemp market is huge and hot,” Halsima said in emailed comments. “I want to shrink the cannabis market and make it manageable. The state of residence is far-reaching, but I see no alternative. “
Halsima presented the plan to Amsterdam Council on Friday, sparking a political debate that discussed a transitional agreement with the shop owners. He hopes the policy will come into force next year at the earliest.
Is Amsterdam’s latest initiative to actively reduce the flow of visitors and improve the quality of life for residents. The city has been crowded since cheap flights, making its historic center a popular weekend destination.
Read more: Amsterdam wants nothing to do with Europe’s tourism revival
Before the coronovirus lockdown, its famous red-light district, marijuana shops and picturesque canals attracted more than 1 million visitors a month – more than its permanent population.
“Coffee shops, especially in the center, largely run on tourists,” Halsima said. “The increase in tourism has only increased demand” and attracted hard-drug criminality in the process.
While the pandemic tourism stagnation has affected the city’s budget, the first female mayor of Amsterdam is determined to re-shape the sector to ease the crisis. The closure of the freewheeling marijuana trade could lead to a large number of revelations.
Read more: Amsterdam brothel to receive a review by the city’s first female mayor
According to research conducted by the city government, a visit to a coffee shop was a very important reason for 57% of foreign visitors to the region.
Amsterdam is home to 166 coffee shops, and if the plan was in effect, it would not be needed. According to government studies, the demand for local cannabis would only support 68.
Similar restrictions have already been implemented in Maastricht and Den Bosch, which react to coffee shops being overloaded by visitors from Germany, France and Belgium. Efforts are outlined by a 2013 Dutch law aimed at favoring the local cannabis market and reducing drug tourism.
Halsima says she expects support from the business community, with many entrepreneurs in the city center no longer in favor of Amsterdam’s reputation for unrestricted access to sex and drugs.
“We can be an open, hospitable and tolerant city, but also a city that makes life difficult for criminals and slows down mass tourism,” she said.