Officials in Amsterdam are considering methods to further limit the amount of tourists visiting the city, including banning tourists from the city’s famous cannabis cafes.
Amsterdam has had increasing issues related to overtourism in the last few years, and has sought to implement strategies to curb the negative effect related to the influx of visitors. Now the destination is considering instituting a ban on non-residents from accessing the popular cannabis shops, which are prominent throughout the city.
The proposed move follows a recent survey commissioned by Amsterdam’s Mayor Femke Halsema, which sought to identify the most popular reasons for visiting Amsterdam, and investigate "what would happen to the willingness of tourists to visit Amsterdam if either the availability or accessibility of one or more of these factors should reduce or disappear."
The survey revealed over half of young tourists (57%) said they chose to visit Amsterdam because they wanted to experience a cannabis cafe. About 34% of those surveyed indicated they would go to Amsterdam less often if they were not able to visit the coffee shops, and 11% said they would not visit at all.
Amsterdam welcomed 19 million visitors in 2018, and according to the Statista, the online marketing statistics portal, that number is forecasted to increase to 21 million by 2020. As a result, some of Holland’s major attractions — including the canals, tulips, and windmills — have become extremely overcrowded in recent years due to overtourism.
This isn’t the first initiative the city has engaged in to curb overtourism. Just last year, the city instituted a day-trip tax for ocean and river cruise passengers; a tourist tax on hotel rooms was raised last year; and more restrictions have been put in place when renting out Airbnbs. And most recently, Amsterdam announced it would be banning group tours of the city’s Red Light District beginning in April, citing that the crowds “are not respectful towards sex workers.”
The survey suggests that the cannabis industry in the city holds a strong appeal for international tourists, and controlling or limiting access to these businesses could serve to reduce the tourist population capacity. And while national laws already require that visitors show proof of residence to enjoy the coffee shops, this rule is not widely enforced in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
A spokesman for the mayor’s office, Sebastiaan Meijer, said in an interview with DutchNews.nl that the city does not have any plans to ban foreign residents from cannabis cafes, but is researching policies that could make them less attractive and reduce tourist nuisance.
“It’s going to take some time to go to the next steps, and there is no real clear majority [in the city council] for solutions,” said Meijer.