Amsterdam Considering Barring Tourists from Buying Cannabis in Attempt to Clean Up City
There have always been plenty of reasons to visit Amsterdam, but tourists’ days of being able to easily purchase cannabis there may be numbered.
As part of her effort to clean up the city’s red-light district, Femke Halsema, the mayor of Amsterdam, commissioned a study to show the major reasons why visitors come to the city, according to The Independent.
The study, which was released on Feb. 11 and conducted by the Research, Information and Statistics Department, showed that coffee shops, where cannabis products are legally sold, are among the top reasons why tourists visit Amsterdam. Twenty-two percent of visitors from all nationalities cited coffee shops as their primary reason to visit, while among British respondents, the number increased to 33 percent.
“For British visitors, coffee shops by far are the most frequently mentioned main reason to come to Amsterdam,” the study states, according to The Guardian. “For a majority of respondents (57%), coffee shops played a (very) important role in the choice to come to Amsterdam, whether or not it was the main reason.”
However, if foreigners were no longer allowed to purchase cannabis, 34 percent of respondents said they would visit less often, while 11 percent said they would never return. This number was also more pronounced among British respondents, as 42 percent indicated they would be less likely to travel there.
The survey went on to note that among all respondents, 40 percent said they would no longer use “hashish or weed” in Amsterdam if a cannabis ban went into effect.
Halsema included the results of the survey in a letter to councilors, in which she announced her plans to look into how to “reduce the attraction of cannabis to tourists,” according to The Guardian; the paper also reported that she has plans to reduce the number of coffee shops licensed to sell cannabis.
Halsema, who began serving her six-year term in July 2018, has made cleaning up the red-light district a priority.
Shortly after taking office, her administration announced a series of new fines for “public urination, drunkenness or excessive noise,” as well as a marketing campaign to remind tourists that people actually live there, according to The New York Times.
Over the past decade, the number of tourists visiting Amsterdam has increased by over 60 percent, according to The New York Times, with The Guardian reporting that over 17 million people visit the city annually.
Amsterdam has also announced a ban of red-light district tours, which will go into effect in April.