Amsterdam has 166 coffee shops. Many tourists only come because of them. But Amsterdam wants more cultural tourists and fewer drug tourists. Therefore, the coffee shops will soon be reserved for the locals.
Ludger Kazmierczak, ARD-Studio The Hague
Backpackers, weekenders, culture vultures and bowling clubs – they are all drawn to Amsterdam. And so the Dutch capital with its not even 900,000 inhabitants counts almost 18 million visitors every year. Among them, according to Mayor Femke Halsema, are many who have no eye for the beauty of the picturesque old town, the canals or the museum district.
“There are many cannabis tourists in the city center in particular,” said the mayor. They really only come to visit a coffee shop here. “That causes trouble and carries risks for more impairments and crime.”
Hesitated for fear of illegal trade
Even if the corona crisis slowed mass and party tourism a bit in the past year, the drunken British and bachelor hordes roaring through the red light district have long been a thorn in the side of the city. Together with the police and the public prosecutor’s office, the green mayor wants to stop drug tourism in the city.
Coffee shops should only be accessible to Dutch people who can identify themselves with a “Wiet-Pas”, a cannabis passport. This has long been common practice in other cities. Only Amsterdam has so far hesitated not to promote the illegal cannabis trade.
“Fewer visitors who come to walk around stoned”
But current studies show that many tourists would not even make their way to Holland if the coffee shops were closed for them. That leaves travelers who are always welcome, says the mayor.
“Amsterdam is an international city and we love to receive tourists,” said Halsem. “But we would like tourists who come for the wealth of this city and our cultural institutions, and we would like fewer visitors who just come here to walk around drunk and stoned.”
Only 70 instead of 166 coffee shops needed
There are currently 166 coffee shops in Amsterdam. 20 years ago there were more than 280. If the so-called cannabis tourists stayed away, around 70 coffee shops would be enough to serve the local market. This is how the administration calculated it.
However, the city council still has to approve Halsema’s proposal. It will therefore take at least a year or more before the plans can actually be implemented.