The Red Light District in Amsterdam is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations and attracts millions of visitors each year, mainly due its window prostitution and adult entertainment, including cannabis consumption. Dutch authorities decided to ban smoking weed in public in Red Light District, in an effort to save residents from “glassy-eyed tourist zombies”.
“Residents of the old city center experience a lot of nuisance from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse on the street,” the Municipality of Amsterdam said in a statement on Thursday. While cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, the country has a policy of toleration towards the sale and use of small amounts of marijuana for personal consumption and there are several coffee shops that sell it in the Red Light District, which is located in the city-centre.
“Tourists also attract street dealers who in turn cause crime and insecurity. Especially at night the atmosphere can get grim. People who are under the influence hang around for a long time. Residents cannot sleep well and the neighbourhood becomes unsafe and unlivable,” added the council, warning that if necessary, the ban will be extended to terraces of cannabis “coffeeshops”.
In addition to banning smoking weed in public, which will come into effect in mid-May, restaurants, bars and brothels opening hours will be reduced, until 2am and 3am respectively. Sales of alcohol is currently illegal from Thursday to Sunday after 4pm in the district, now alcohol products must be removed from shop windows and fronts during these hours.
As per estimates, 10 to 15% of the city’s tourist industry is located in the Red Light District and in 2023, Amsterdam is predicted to exceed 18 million overnight visitors. Local authorities will also launch a “stay away” campaign this spring, aiming to reduce the impact of mass tourism and nuisance visitors.