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In an attempt at dissuading tourists and mitigating the predicament of organised crime and drug trade, Amsterdam is gearing up to declare its cannabis-dealing outlets out-of-bounds for non-Dutch residents.
Predicted to take centre-stage in 2022, this ban is being spearheaded by environmentalist mayor Femke Halsema.
According to a survey, 57% of tourists visit Amsterdam for its cannabis-selling cafes and around 34% claimed that they weren’t sure whether they’d schedule another trip if these cafes were banned, while 11% say they wouldn’t return if they were deemed off-limits for non-residents.
These statistics substantiate the fact that Amsterdam’s cannabis outlets are a primary area of interest for travellers, and a number of individuals plan their trips to the capital in order to avail of its cannabis-serving facilities. According to a report in Forbes, these outlets, accompanied by the capital’s Red Light District, see about 10 lakh travellers per month (pre-COVID, of course). That number exceeds Amsterdam’s permanent population.
In 2018, the Dutch capital witnessed the arrival of 19 million people. It’s predicted that this number will ascend to a whopping 2.9 crore by 2025, according to a Guardian report.
On January 8, 2021, mayor Halsema proposed a ‘resident criterion’ to the Council via a letter. This proposition insinuates that the residents of Amsterdam, and no one else, will be allowed to access its cafes. For non-residents, the cafes are off-limits. “The cannabis market is too big and overheated,” Halsema stated in e-mailed comments, “I want to shrink the cannabis market and make it manageable. The residence condition is far-reaching, but I see no alternative.”
This move, championed by police and prosecutors, will combat ‘over-tourism’, and result in a contraction in the number of tourists predicating their trips around its 166 cafes.
In the past, Amsterdam’s government has attempted at addressing escalating numbers of tourists by inflating taxes, reducing the number of shops in the city, and preventing the institution of new restaurants. These measures didn’t quite deliver. The recent measure’s implementation is supposed to culminate in 2022 following a transitional agreement with shop owners.
“We can be an open, hospitable and tolerant city, but also a city that makes life difficult for criminals and slows down mass tourism,” Halsema said. While the tourism standstill has taken a toll on the city’s budget, Amsterdam’s first female mayor is adamant at reinventing the sector soon.
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