Amsterdam has issued a "stay away" warning to unruly British sex and drug tourists. The Netherlands municipal council is distributing a digital dissuasion campaign aimed at men aged 18 to 35 in the United Kingdom.
The campaign is part of attempts to improve Amsterdam's status as the most liberal party capital in Europe. Generally blunt, the films depict young guys stumbling in the street while cops arrest them, fingerprint them, and take their mugshots.
The internet advertisements, which stress the hazards connected with excessive drug and alcohol use, will be activated when consumers in the United Kingdom search for phrases such as stag party, cheap hotel, or pub crawl Amsterdam.
The message is unequivocal: a long weekend in Amsterdam may leave you with regrettable memories, and the escapism you seek in the famed party capital may leave you with unavoidable convictions.
There are return flights to Amsterdam for £50 (€57; $62) from the United Kingdom. The travel agencies in the United Kingdom also offer stag weekends in Amsterdam, featuring canal boat excursions with unrestricted alcohol, "steak and strip" nights, and bar crawls in the red light district.
People have complained for years about inebriated British citizens peeing in public, vomiting in canals, stripping and engaging in drunken brawls.
This phenomenon is not new. About a decade ago, the then-mayor of Amsterdam asked his London counterpart Boris Johnson, who had labeled Amsterdam as "sleazy," to see for himself what the British were up to. He mentioned that they sing the song “you'll never walk alone” as they slalom through the red light district without coats. They are occasionally dressed as rabbits or priests, and sometimes not at all. At the time, Eberhard van der Laan stated that he would love to welcome Boris Johnson. According to critics, the targeted advertising tactics are discriminatory and based on inaccurate perceptions.
Coffee shops are permitted to sell cannabis in the Netherlands so long as they adhere to rigorous regulations, such as not providing alcoholic beverages or selling to minors. "They may come for the cannabis, but they remain for Van Gogh," Greenhouse coffee shop owner Joachim Helms told me.
He indicated a woman in her sixties and stated that his clientele came from all social and economic backgrounds, stating that Amsterdam's principles of freedom, tolerance, and equality were breached by attempts to exclude people based on their age and gender. But, the crowded, narrow, cobblestoned alleys and canals are under strain.
Each year, around 20 million tourists, including one million Britons, visit the city of approximately 883,000 residents. Yet excessive tourism is straining the tolerance of the people and has pushed the council to take action.
The council is in the process of relocating the neon-lit windows where sex workers promenade for business from the residential core of the capital to a new "erotic zone." The rumors of a total prohibition on the sex trade have subsided for the time being. Instead, stricter operational regulations are being implemented.
This weekend, brothels and bars will have earlier closing times, and in May, it will be illegal to smoke cannabis on the streets surrounding the Red Light District. The objective of Amsterdam is to make the industry less sleazy and more sustainable, and the city more livable.