Amsterdam has long been one of my favorite cities in the world, but on recent visits I have been put off by the sheer volume of tourists. The notoriously tolerant residents of the city seem to have finally had enough of drunken, littering, short-term visitors and are enacting regulations to stem the tide of overtourism.
With a resident population of less than 875,000, Amsterdam has been overwhelmed by a flood of close to 20 million tourists a year. And if you’ve ever been to the city you know that the vast majority of visitors stay and congregate in the picturesque, old historic heart of town. Many of those tourists come from other European countries for long weekends or very brief stays. They frequently book the cheapest accommodations and cram extra people in hotel rooms or Airbnbs.
In recent years, the municipal government has attempted to limit the number of nights per year that homes can be rented for short term occupancy. It has also cracked down on loutish tourist behavior with stricter city ordinances. Now the city is looking at the impact of cannabis tourism.
Last year, Mayor Femke Halsema commissioned a survey of visitors which included questions on their relationship to coffee shops. The survey revealed that 57% of foreigners visiting the center of Amsterdam say that visiting a coffee shop is a “very important reason” for their visit. When asked about whether or not they would return if they were unable to access coffee shops, 34% of tourists from overseas said that they were unsure, while 11% said that they would not.
Mayor Halsema has proposed regulations which would limit access to cannabis coffee shops to Dutch residents. thereby reducing the attraction of legal drugs to tourists and making tourism in the city easier to manage. The new ordinances are expected to come into effect in 2021. Personally, I’m happily planning to return to an Amsterdam that resembles the city that I’ve loved for decades.