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Sex and drug tourism discouraged

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-03-31 10:02

Amsterdam authorities have launched an online advertising campaign to warn rowdy visitors against trips focused on sex and drug tourism.

A so-called discouragement campaign, developed by the Dutch city's council, is initially targeting men aged 18 to 35 in the United Kingdom.

Those who search terms on the internet like "stag party Amsterdam", "cheap hotel Amsterdam", or "pub crawl Amsterdam" will be nudged toward short videos listing "the risks and consequences of nuisance and excessive alcohol and drug use", said a statement from the city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Young men from the UK are seen as the principal menace to peace and quiet on Amsterdam's idyllic 17th and 18th-century streets, reported The Times newspaper.

"Visitors will remain welcome, but not if they misbehave and cause nuisance. In that case, we as a city will say — rather not, stay away," said Sofyan Mbarki, Amsterdam's deputy mayor responsible for tourism.

A campaign video shows a young man smashing a glass and yelling at police before he is arrested. "Coming to Amsterdam for a messy night and getting trashed= €140 fine + criminal record= fewer prospects," it says.

Another clip shows a man being taken away in an ambulance after taking drugs. "Lose control= hospital trip+ permanent health damage= worried family," the video says. "Coming for drugs? Stay away."

The campaign could be extended to tourists from elsewhere in the Netherlands or other countries in the European Union "in the course of the year", the statement read.

The BBC reported that the initiative is part of a wider clampdown by the city's authorities on rowdy tourists, which aims to clean up Amsterdam's reputation as Europe's party capital.

The city's famous red light district is known for its legalized brothels with prostitutes on display, and local residents have long complained about the drunken tourists who come to use the city's cannabis "coffee shops".

Last month, authorities passed regulations making it illegal to smoke cannabis in the red light district.

Other new restrictions to curb unwelcome behavior include limits on the number of river cruises, bachelor parties, and organized pubcrawls permitted. The Times noted that the "stay away" initiative is the start of a long-term plan to keep tourism below 10 million overnight tourist stays per year, after numbers have almost doubled from 5.3 million in 2010.

Mbarki added: "Amsterdam is already taking lots of measures against excessive tourism and nuisance, and we are taking more measures than other large cities in Europe.

"But we have to do even more in the coming years if we want to give tourism a sustainable place in our city. Amsterdam is a metropole and crowds and bustle are inherent features, but to keep our city liveable we now have to choose for restriction instead of irresponsible growth."

The BBC reported that some critics argue the targeted ad campaigns are discriminatory and are based on unfair stereotypes.

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