“‘[C]oming to Amsterdam for a messy night? Stay away.’ ”
Yes, that’s the message the Netherlands’ capital is sending, in a campaign that kicks off this week, to partygoing prospective male tourists from Great Britain between 18 and 35 years of age,.
“The ‘Stay Away’ online discouragement campaign focuses on nuisance tourists who want to come to Amsterdam to let loose, with all the consequences that entails,” such as arrests, fines and hospitalizations, municipal authorities in Amsterdam said in a statement on Tuesday.
With many locals and officials apparently fed up with inebriated and drug-addled behavior among tourists on weekend junkets, the city has been on a years-long mission to upgrade the traveler experience. In December, the city council adopted “Visitor Economy 2035 Vision,” with measures to confront “excessive tourism and nuisance.”
“Visitors remain welcome, but not if they misbehave and cause nuisance. Then we as a city say: rather not, stay away,” said Sofyan Mbarki, deputy mayor for economic affairs and the inner city, in a statement. “But to keep our city livable, we now opt for limitations instead of irresponsible growth.”
The full video that Amsterdam authorities have released begins with a scene featuring a young man stumbling and then being arrested by police, followed by the arrival of an ambulance and hospitalization. “Coming for a messy night + getting trashed = $140 fine + criminal record + fewer prospects. So coming to Amsterdam for a messy night? Stay away.”
The campaign will see visitors greeted with physical signs on the ground and social-media warnings about bans on public urination, drunkenness and the purchase of drugs from street dealers, along with excessive noise. Hotels will also be armed with information. Establishments will see stricter closing times. Bans on alcohol sales will also be in place for specific areas.
In February, the city proposed a plan to cut nuisance and crime in its famed Red Light District. Smoking cannabis in the street will be banned from mid-May, while other proposals involve earlier weekend closing times for bars, clubs and sex-work establishments and curbs on the sale of alcohol. The area, also known as Wallen, is the oldest district of Amsterdam with a history of sex work that dates back to 1385.
The city said it has consulted with organizers of bachelor parties in the city as to how to reduce “nuisance tourism” in the center before summer and sought input from experts on perhaps using a tourist tax effectively and trying to limit the number of river cruises. Hotels, for example, pay 7% of the accommodation costs in tax per tourist, along with a surcharge.
Officials indicated that the campaign won’t necessarily be limited to U.K. tourists or to males. “In the course of the year, potentially nuisance-causing visitors from the Netherlands and other EU countries will also be added,” they said.
Though it came at a high cost, locals in generally crowded European cities got a break and a taste of normalcy during the early stages of the pandemic as travel was shut down worldwide. Ahead of that, these cities had struggled to cope as cheap flights and the rising popularity of weekend travel meant groups of young men and women descending on heavily populated areas to celebrate nuptials-to-be. The year 2017 was marked by anti-tourism protests across European cities.
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Spain is among those countries that have battled this particular problem in its biggest cities, and elsewhere. In 2016, the southern town of Mojacar banned unruly and offensive costumes and excessive drunkenness, with affianced Spaniards adopting practices they’d seen among foreign visitors — to the extent that it would not have been uncommon prepandemic to see a man dressed as a human organ being led around Madrid by friends on any given weekend.
An initiative passed in June 2021 requires Amsterdam officials to take action when annual inbound tourist numbers exceed 18 million. The city’s population stands at just over 800,000.