Most countries want tourists back — but Amsterdam is telling these visitors to ‘stay away’

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Some places are wooing visitors by waiving visa requirements and giving out air tickets.

But Amsterdam has a problem with too much tourism — and now it’s telling some visitors, namely British male tourists aged between 18 and 35, to “stay away” if they’re traveling to the city for drugs or parties.

Amsterdam’s local authority launched the online campaign in Great Britain this month that aims to keep out “nuisance-causing visitors,” authorities said in a news release last week.

About 360,000 overnight guests from the United Kingdom visited Amsterdam in 2020, said Statista.

The “Stay Away” campaign targets visitors who use online search terms like “stag party Amsterdam,” “pub crawl Amsterdam” or “cheap hotel Amsterdam” by showing them warning advertisements, authorities said. The advertisements portray the risks and consequences of “excessive drug and alcohol abuse,” authorities added.

Amsterdam hotels recorded about 1.75 million international arrivals and 1.1 million domestic arrivals in 2021, according to Statista.
Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP | Getty Images

One video advertisement warns viewers that “Coming to Amsterdam for a messy night + getting trashed = 140 Euro fine,” alongside footage of police handcuffing a young man. Another video depicts a man being wheeled away on a stretcher, accompanied by the text “Coming to Amsterdam to take drugs + lose control = hospital trip.”

Local authorities said they will expand the campaign to target tourists from the Netherlands and other EU countries throughout the year.

Amsterdam hotels recorded about 1.75 million international arrivals and 1.1 million domestic arrivals in 2021, according to Statista.

Fighting excessive tourism

The campaign is just one of a slew of measures that Amsterdam is taking to combat excessive tourism and attract different types of tourists.

The “How to Amsterdam” campaign starting this month will use social media and hotel facilities to inform visitors about what constitutes unacceptable behavior in the city, such as being drunk and disorderly and buying drugs from street dealers, authorities said.

The city also announced in February new measures in the red light district to “reduce nuisance and crime.” Those include a ban on smoking cannabis in the street, reduced alcohol sales and earlier weekend closing times for bars, clubs and sex work establishments, authorities said.

In 2021, Amsterdam’s mayor and councilors agreed on plans to close the red light district and set up an “erotic center” away from the city center, The Guardian reported.

However, Amsterdam has to do “even more” in the coming years “to give tourism a sustainable place in our city,” said Deputy Mayor Sofyan Mbarki in the news release.

“Amsterdam is a metropolis and that includes bustle and liveliness, but in order to keep our city livable, we now choose to set limits instead of allowing irresponsible growth,” he said.

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