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Bursts of spirited cheers ring out from crowded bars during World Cup soccer matches. Marijuana smoke comes from coffee shops. Hordes of tourists shuffle along the narrow streets, making it difficult — if not impossible — for a car or even a bike to pass through.
A few men stop to ask lingerie-clad sex workers posing behind brothel windows about their services. The majority stare or look as they walk.
At one of the establishments along the Voorburgwal canal, a middle-aged man wearing jeans and a baseball cap is snapping a photo of his friend against the window. They trade places for another photo, then walk off, laughing.
Amsterdam’s Tourism Relaunch: Strategies for a Better City, Less Disturbed by Mass Tourism, Drug Abuse and More Enticing for Visitors
It is only one day in one of the world’s most notorious tourist hubs. The De Wallen neighborhood will eventually draw visitors who come to appreciate its heritage, architecture and culture, instead of its vices, if city officials have their way.
There are proposed measures to target problematic tourist behavior such as limiting the number of river cruises and earlier closing times for bars, clubs and window brothels.
“We should get rid of the image of sex, drugs and rock and roll,” says Remco Groenhuijzen, general manager of the Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Center. It’s not bad that we’re a little bit afraid of each other. But that’s not a free [pass] to come here and misbehave.”
Groenhuijzen says the majority of the members of the Luxury Hotels of Amsterdam, an association of 24 four- and five-star hotels of which he serves as chairman, generally approve of the city’s bid to polish up its reputation through various measures that attempt to address (and prevent) the unsavory consequences of tourists behaving badly.
“We think a city should be beautiful when it’s nice to come, because that’s when we like to stay here,” Groenhuijzen says. “That was always the strength of Amsterdam, to have the right balance.”
“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.
Udo described the city’s tourism reboot as a multi-layered approach with specific campaigns designed to target unique groups of visitors, while rebranding Amsterdam as a destination whose draws go far beyond brothels and cannabis cafes — along with making the city safer and more livable for residents and more enticing for visitors.
One specific measure would target visitors from around the Netherlands as well as from Germany and other countries that drive in and sleep in their cars instead of staying in a hotel.
Why a neighborhood like Red Light District is thriving and what we want to do about it: comments on the proposal by Femke Halsema
Udo often avoids using “Red Light District” when discussing the plans. She says that it has become a theme park name for a neighborhood. If we’re going to change the perception, we shouldn’t be talking about the Red Light District.
In 2020, guided tours were prohibited from passing sex workers’ windows, and there was talk of moving the window brothels to a neighborhood outside of the city center – conversations that continue to this day.
Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema, the first female mayor of the Dutch capital, wanted to build an “erotic hotel” for the project.
They claim that putting the center far from well-known tourist areas would hurt their business and that they don’t want the center in the city at all.
Jeroen de Jong, chief operating officer of Amsterdam Red Light District Tours , whose app offers self-guided tours through the district (in-person tours were banned at the start of 2020), predicted that the erotic center “will fail and become a financial catastrophe.”
De Jong also noted that there are a couple more areas around Amsterdam with window brothels. Sex workers in the capital can choose to work in many different places.
It’s anybody’s guess when the 15,000-square-foot, multi-story center, which has a commissioned architect on board, will officially open. Following fierce opposition to the first eight proposed sites , the city has delayed the decision and may expand the list to include additional sites, Dutch newspaper Het Parool reported.
Halsema is determined. She hopes that it’s possible to create an erotic center that is not a place where only the most vulnerable women gather but also people who are not ashamed to go there. this fall.
The future of the Red Light District may be unclear, but for now, business is humming along as usual. And for many of the workers and customers who frequent adult novelty shops, cannabis cafes, porn shows and other enterprises in the neighborhood, that’s the way it should be.
The Red Light District is a Wonderful Place: Sex Accessories in the De Wallen Neighborhood, a Reflection from a Local Sex Shop Employee
Linda Nap, an employee of a sex accessories shop in De Wallen, says that government just wants to “retard everything”, and that it would be great if they could get fancy houses back to rich people.
The city would be better served if it spent less money on anti-tourism campaigns and more on the police presence in the Red Light District. “Frequently heard is that we don’t want more rules, but more police and enforcers.” he says.
The neighborhood’s unique spirit, which has been thrived for centuries, will be stripped by the city’s continued measures, because Nap says many of her customers are sex workers. And while she understands residents’ frustrations about overcrowding and noise, she contends that the realities about living in the neighborhood have always been highly visible.
Nap says that the sex industry has been here since the 1600s, and that people don’t come only for tulips. “Leave it be. Move somewhere else if you have a problem.
The Amsterdam Cannabis Control Plan: A Proposed Strategy for the era of a ban on smoking marijuana on the street and on the coffee shops
In addition to a ban on smoking marijuana on the street, Amsterdam said it will ramp up measures to discourage sales of alcohol. They are already banned from Thursday to Sunday. The city said that alcohol must be hidden from sight or removed from stores during those hours.
Street dealers who promote criminality and security are attracted by tourists. The atmosphere at night can be very sad. People who have an addiction also stay around longer.
It was hoping that the smoking ban would make things more pleasant. If the experiment fails there would be a ban on smoking marijuana at the coffee shops and take-out purchases of soft drugs at certain times.