More cannabis tourism in Amsterdam after coronavirus

‘Cannabis tourism’ could come to an end in Amsterdam if the environmentalist mayor Femke Halsema obtains its wish to ban foreign tourists from the city’s cafes by the lifting of travel restrictions linked to coronaviruses.

It’s no secret that the city’s first female mayor, along with many locals, is just fed up with “Amsterdam’s power of attraction as a resort for soft drug tourism ”, as Halsema wrote in a recent letter to his city council, included in his new plan which should be adopted and which would allow the sale of marijuana products only to nationals Dutch and residents of the Netherlands.

MORE FORBESCannabis reclassified as a safer drug by the UN

Before the Covid-19 closures, euphemistically called cafes, as well as the famous red light district, attracted more than a million visitors per month – more than its permanent population.

A total of 46 million people visited the Netherlands in 2019, with most coming to Amsterdam and many buying and smoking cannabis in marijuana stores.

Enough is enough

“The Dutch city, in an effort to crack down on the growing number of low-budget ‘drug tourists’ and organized crime, plans to ban the sale of marijuana to foreigners at its famous cafes,” writes The New York Times.

This time, the prosecution and the police support the mayor’s approach. The business community, especially in the city center, has joined in, although in the past it has opposed any drastic controls. This position has softened as many entrepreneurs want to change Amsterdam’s reputation as a place of unrestricted access to sex and drugs.

The city, known for its liberal attitude to drugs and its red light district, seeks to control the flow of young tourists who arrive with the sole intention of smoking marijuana – and to undermine the criminal organizations behind the drug trafficking. drug.

MORE FORBESWhy you won’t be able to return to Holland

“We can be an open, hospitable and tolerant city, but also a city that makes life difficult for criminals and slows down mass tourism,” said Mayor Halsema.

The proposal follows the example of other cities in the south of the Netherlands, including Maastricht and Den Bosch, which have seen their cafes overcrowded with German, French and Belgian visitors and, as a result, have already banned tourists from frequenting the cafes in their city. .

The cannabis trade has become “too big and overheated,” the mayor has said on several occasions during her campaign to change the fact that Amsterdam, @visitholland, is best known as a “soft drug tourism hotspot” and a paradise for cannabis users around the world.

Instead, she wants to restore the city to its international fame as one of the most beautiful in the world along with many other top-class attractions.

Stores have been allowed to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, but customers must take their purchases outside.

Ever-increasing demand

The demand for cannabis has grown steadily year on year, despite official efforts to promote other tourism activities and control the number of Airbnb hotels and rentals, with “cannabis tourists” a nuisance. , especially around the city center.

Amsterdam wants to reduce the flow of visitors and improve the quality of life for residents. The intolerable masses of low budget tourism have exploded over the years as cheaper flights have made it a popular weekend destination.

“Amsterdam, like Barcelona and Venice, has an increasingly difficult relationship with many visitors of this type, as they complain, among other things, of flooding historic districts and that the short-term accommodation intended for them entails a shortage of housing for local residents ”, reports The New York Times.

According to a study commissioned by the local government, for 57% of foreign visitors, a trip to a cafe was a “very important” reason for their arrival.

“The cafes, especially in the center, run largely on tourists,” Halsema said. “The increase in tourism has only increased demand” and has attracted hard drug crime.

More than sex and drugs

As the tourism collapse from the pandemic has hit the city’s budget, the mayor of Amsterdam is determined to continue her campaign even if being excluded from the free-wheeling marijuana trade could put off a large number of potential revelers .

“Amsterdam is an international city and we want to welcome tourists, but we would like tourists who come for the richness of the city, for its beauty, for its cultural institutions,” Halsema told Dutch public television.

According to the Ministry of Public Health, the Netherlands has 570 coffeeshops, of which 166 (30%) are in Amsterdam.

Since the 1970s the Dutch government has tolerated these establishments and Amsterdam in particular has promoted the cultivation of cannabis along with other activities such as hosting the Cannabis Cup Festival for decades.

Fight against organized drug crime

This laissez-faire attitude has enabled cafes to become a key tourist attraction with often shady and powerful interests operating behind the scenes.

The new plan presented to Amsterdam city council last week aims to tackle the flow of hard drugs and organized crime linked to the marijuana trade.

“I want to reduce the cannabis market and make it manageable,” the mayor wrote. “A big plan, but I see no alternative.”

Of the 166 licensed coffee shops in Amsterdam, 68 would be enough to support local demand under the new plan, says the official study.

In a contradictory model, despite the legality of coffeeshops, the production of cannabis and its supply has always been illegal in the Netherlands at the same time that possession of less than five grams (0.18 ounces) was decriminalized in 1976 under of a so-called “policy of tolerance”.

Studies have shown that tourism would drop sharply if foreigners were banned from cafes. But for the mayor, determined to reshape the sector once the crisis has subsided, it is a reasonable price to pay for having been too tolerant in the past.

Comments are closed.