Mayor Femke Halsema wants to clean up the overtouristed city centre

Amsterdam might ban foreign tourists from coffeeshops in future

Amsterdam mayor Mrs Femke Halsema said many of the ever-increasing-number of tourists in The Netherlands’ largest city were there simply to consume cannabis in the euphemistically named “coffee shops” and had become a problem for locals. Foreign tourists may be banned from coffeeshops in Amsterdam in future and only Dutch residents will have access to the shops to buy and smoke cannabis, has been said in a letter to the council. “Amsterdam is an international city and we wish to attract tourists, but we would like them to come for its richness, its beauty and its cultural institutions,” said Halsema this month.

1.5 million visits a month

Efforts to reduce criminality linked with the industry in the past two decades have reduced the numbers of coffeeshops in Amsterdam from 283 to 166 now but the demand has still increased.  Studies have shown that tourism would decline sharply if foreigners were banned from the coffee shops. Before the coronavirus outbreak, foreign tourists were visiting coffeshops an estimated 1.5m times a month. Therefore a large proportion of foreign tourists would not want to come to Amsterdam if they cannot go to a coffeeshops.

In recent months, calls have increased from politicians, businesses, tourist bodies and residents of the Dutch capital to enforce a national law which means only residents can buy from the coffeeshops. It was never enforced in Amsterdam because of concerns that it would drive the trade on to the street.The mayor intends to limit the number of coffeeshops in any chain and regulate the supply with a new “quality mark”. Although coffeeshops fall under the mayor’s responsibilities, the new proposal will be discussed by Amsterdam council to draw up definitive plans, and there will also be a transition period before any ruling is enforced.