The picturesque canals, tall terrace houses and magnificent markets are serious drawcards to the city of Amsterdam, but we’d be lying if we left the fact cannabis consumption is tolerated off this list.
But it’s possible the days of smoking a joint in one of Amsterdam’s coffee shops could be numbered with the news the city is considering a ban on foreigners enjoying cannabis — and all in an effort to combat over-tourism.
In 2020, Amsterdam has an estimated population of 1.4 million, though in 2019, it’s said up to 21 million tourists visited the city, many of whom may have taken part in coffee shop trips in the city’s Red Light districts.
A recent investigative article for The Guardian reveals Amsterdam is struggling to cope with over-tourism, and now, in a move to combat this on a grand scale, it appears drastic steps to dissuade tourists from cannabis may be taken.
In the article, it’s revealed Amsterdam’s Major Femke Halsema commissioned a survey that questioned tourists’ reasons for visiting. Of the 100 people who took part, 57 said the city’s coffee shops enticed them to come.
When asked whether a ban on visitors consuming cannabis would influence their decision to visit or return, 34% said they would reconsider or come less often, while 11% said they’d never come back again.
In February 2020, the Municipality of Amsterdam announced it would ban all guided tours of the Red Light districts from April 1, 2020, with a fine of up to US $8,100 for tour companies that fail to comply after a series of warnings.
The move was made in a bid to prevent overcrowding in these areas, which residents and sex workers claim is a “nuisance” to them going about their work.
“It is disrespectful to treat sex workers as a tourist attraction, therefore tours at De Wallen will be banned,” Amsterdam’s deputy mayor Victor Everhardt said in a statement.
Individual tourists are still permitted to walk the Red Light districts and visit sex work windows.