Amsterdam Cannabis Cafes Fear Foreign Tourist Ban Amid COVID Recovery | DW Travel | DW

As Amsterdam‘s tourism industry slowly begins to recover from the impact of the pandemic, its famous cannabis cafes could face a new hurdle, in the form of a ban on foreign tourists.

Earlier this year, the city’s mayor, Femke Halsema, presented a proposal to ban foreign tourists from entering establishments that serve cannabis as a means of reinventing the city’s image. Banning foreigners from cafes, supporters say, would help stop the influx of rowdy tourists who take to the city’s streets and annoy some locals.

However, after more than a year without much revenue from overseas travelers, cafes fear such a ban will make recovery even more difficult, driving out legal businesses and creating a platform for merchants. of street.

In the last pre-pandemic years, the city has attracted around 20 million tourists per year. But even after the lifting of several lockdowns, the number of foreign visitors to the city remains well below the previous total.

Great dependence on foreign tourists

Eve McGuire, who works at Coffeeshop Reefer, said without tourists a significant portion of the cafe’s income would disappear.

Eve McGuire doubts foreign tourists will be banned from establishments serving cannabis

“If they banned tourists 80% of our customers would have left,” McGuire told DW. “And not only that, but the Dutch don’t chill out in cafes. If you are Dutch you buy your weed and go home. People chilling out in cafes are tourists.”

Gary Gallagher, director of the Amsterdam Cannabis Museum, told DW that even with the recently relaxed travel restrictions, the amount of cash received is still only about half of what it was before the pandemic.

He believes that due to the amount of money the industry brings in, such a ban on foreigners in cafes is unlikely to go into effect. Even if officials manage to pass the ban, he and other critics say it would likely drive the cannabis industry underground.

Gary Gallagher, director of the Cannabis Museum, poses in front of the museum entrance

Gary Gallagher thinks ban on tourists from cannabis cafes is ineffective in curbing influx of rowdy travelers

“I think they can change the rules and not the culture. Amsterdam will have this reputation forever,” he said.

“When they closed the cafes for [the] Crown[virus pandemic], there were dealers on every corner. So a few days later, they reversed the trend. “

Meanwhile, McGuire believes the chances of such a ban are unusually slim. “It’s totally a lie,” she said. “They will never let this happen.”

She also fears that the enforcement of such a law will be difficult, given the number of non-Dutch residents of the European Union who work in the city.

“People should show their residency, but you don’t need a residency to work here if you’re in the European Union,” McGuire said.

Rowdy tourists anger locals

However, even McGuire herself found Amsterdam more peaceful without the influx of travelers. “It was nice not to hear people coming in and out seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The street never closes, I don’t miss tourists to be honest,” McGuire said. .

Others have stronger feelings about it. Milan, a 26-year-old resident who lives in an underground apartment in the heart of De Wallen, told DW that a drunk tourist, one of many who stumble around the neighborhood at night, once threw up in his window.

A busy street in Amsterdam with bars

Amsterdam is known for its vibrant nightlife

“I was relaxing on my bed when I saw someone outside, who just sat and vomited out the window,” he said.

He added that he would be happy to see new regulations in place to limit party tourists. “They have no respect. It’s a neighborhood but they don’t see it as a neighborhood where people live.”

Measures to limit the tourist influx

This year, Mayor Halsema announced a plan to move sex workers in De Wallen’s red light district away from windows and to a central building closer to the outskirts of town.

Amsterdam has also added more paperwork for those who want to rent apartments on Airbnb in the city.

In addition, city authorities introduced a tourist quota after a citizens’ initiative lobbied for the move. It sets a limit of 20 million overnight stays per year at most. Amsterdam is the first city in the world to introduce such a cap.

Reinvent tourism in Amsterdam?

Officials say the proposed ban on foreigners in cannabis cafes would help the city attract a healthier set of travelers, as those who come to profit from liberal drug use policies and profit from the sex industry are not not always the same people who come to admire the picturesque canals or to see the Van Gogh house.

Amsterdam canal

Amsterdam authorities hope to attract more tourists interested in the city’s architecture and cultural offerings

However, Gallagher believes that if authorities want to tackle the kind of chaos party-oriented tourists create in the inner city areas, a better solution would be to simply focus on policing inner areas more heavily.

“They could have a bigger police presence in the red light district. They just closed their eyes, but now there’s a chance for them, if they want to crack down on this,” he said. “If they want to cut back on loud bachelor parties in the UK we’re all in favor of that, but stopping people from spending money, especially now, I don’t think that’s very smart. “

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