The mayor of Amsterdam has sought to win political backing for her clean-up of the overcrowded red-light district by revealing that a third of foreign would be less likely to visit the city again if they were barred from buying cannabis in the coffee shops.
Home to 1.1 million people, the city attracts more than 17 million visitors a year, Amsterdam is struggling to cope with the huge numbers visiting the city centre to the point that its attractions are no longer being promoted.
The mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema, who is understood to want to reduce the number of outlets selling cannabis, attached the survey results to a letter to councillors announcing her intention to examine how they may reduce the attraction of drug use to tourists.
The survey by Amsterdam’s research, information and statistics office suggests that 34% of all those who visit the Singel area, which is where the red-light district is located, would come less often to the city if foreigners were not allowed to buy cannabis from the coffee shops, while 11% would never come again.
In her letter, the mayor said she wanted “a study this year to reduce the attraction of cannabis to tourists and the (local) regulation of the back door … A clear separation of markets between hard drugs and soft drugs has great urgency because of the hardening of the trade in hard drugs.”
Separately on Thursday, Amsterdam city hall said group tours of the red-light district and other areas of the capital containing sex workers’ windows would be formally banned from 1 April, while guided tours elsewhere in the centre would require a permit.
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