Amsterdam Makes Big Changes to Red Light District

Amsterdam Makes Big Changes to Red Light District

Red light district in Amsterdam (Photo via Lauren Bowman)

The atmosphere in Amsterdam’s red light district might feel a little different the next time you pay a visit to the Dutch capital.

The BBC reported that in an attempt to cut down on the trouble that tourists cause local residents, Amsterdam is set to enact new measures that will ban smoking marijuana on the street and further restrict alcohol sales in the district.

The city will also require that sex workers in the neighborhood shut down their trade by 3 a.m.

“Residents of the old city center experience a lot of nuisance from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse on the street,” the Municipality of Amsterdam said in a statement that was reported by CNN.

In addition to prohibiting the use of marijuana on the street, the city will also take steps to curb alcohol use in the district. The sale of booze at shops in the red light district is already banned after 4 p.m. Thursday to Sunday, but the city is proposing that it also be hidden from view or removed from stores completely during those hours.

In addition, the city said Thursday that bars and restaurants would have to close by 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and that no new customers would be allowed into establishments where alcohol is served past 1 a.m.

Amsterdam Makes Big Changes to Red Light District

Red Light District in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo via iStock/Getty Images E+/benedek)

If approved, the new regulations would take effect by mid-May.

It’s important to note that the De Wallen neighborhood of the city where the red light district is located has always been home to many local residents and is also home to beautiful architecture and canals like much of the historic center of the city.

Also worth noting that for now, marijuana smoking indoors and on terraces of licensed coffee shops will not be affected. The city said it would consider prohibiting to-go purchases of soft drugs at certain times and banning smoking marijuana altogether at coffee shops’ outdoor seating areas if these new regulations don’t get the desired result, however.

This all comes on the heels of a recent crackdown on guided tours in the neighborhood and proposals to relocate the red light district altogether.

Our Take

Amsterdam is set on shedding its image as a hedonistic party haven and these new regulations could be just the beginning.

As a former Amsterdam resident myself, I believe this is a good thing for residents and tourists who would like to enjoy the canals, architecture and sights of this neighborhood in the heart of the city.

Amsterdam doesn’t want to stop tourists from having a good time, the city is just trying to nudge tourists nicely towards behavior that is less out-of-control and an annoyance to locals—and I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all.

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