Amsterdam Plans Coffee Shop Ban for Tourists

Amsterdam is considering a coffee shop ban for tourists and to ask an entrance fee for those visiting the red-light district in an attempt to curb tourism.


The idea to ban foreign visitors from Amsterdam’s infamous coffee shops was first reported in Dutch local media earlier this month.

Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema informed the city council of the Dutch capital that even closing down all of the city’s coffee shops might be a possibility as the city government is investigating possible measures to ease the negative side-effects of tourism.

amsterdam coffee shop
In Amsterdam, tourists don’t go to a ‘coffee shop’ for a cuppa, but to buy cannabis, magic mushrooms or to eat space cake. ©Screenshot


According to local media, Halsema “wants to make the cannabis market controllable”. Reportedly, “city hall is also thinking about closing down coffee shops” to address the issue.

In the Netherlands, selling ‘soft drugs’ such as cannabis by coffee shops is tolerated by the authorities under certain circumstances. Bizarrely, cannabis cultivation and trade is however a punishable offence in the paradoxical Dutch drugs law code.


According to a market research commissioned by the local authorities of the Dutch capital, 65 percent of all tourists aged between 18 and 35 said they use cannabis on their visit to Amsterdam.

A total of 34 percent of those interviewed said they are less likely to visit Amsterdam if a coffee shop ban for tourists would be introduced. Eleven percent said they would flat out avoid Amsterdam if they could no longer get high.

Banning tourists

It is legally possible to ban non-Dutch citizens from accessing coffee shops. The practice has already been (temporarily) introduced in some cities in the south of the Netherlands in an attempt to combat disturbances by  drugs tourists from Belgium and France.

Red light district

The Amsterdam authorities are also considering curbing down on prostitution in the city’s infamous red-light district. In recent months tours of the red-light district have been banned and calls were even raised to outlaw prostitution altogether.

In their market research, the Amsterdam authorities also asked tourists how they felt about some potential measures for the red-light district which City Hall is currently debating such as asking for an entrance fee just to walk around the area.

Of those questioned, 32 percent said they would never visit the red-light district again if such an entrance fee would be levied. A total of 44 percent said they would visit the area less often if they would have to pay for it.


Amsterdam politicians have tried in recent years to curb tourism which according to many locals have gone out of control. Especially locals in the city centre have been complaining about disturbances by drunk and drugged tourists.

Others have complained about housing prices which have gone through the roof in recent years, partly blaming booking websites such as Airbnb. They say that the city centre has become the domain of tourists and changes the social fabric of the city as ordinary citizens are forced into the exurbs.

To combat this, Amsterdam has already introduced a cap how many days a year an apartment owner can rent out the property to tourists on platforms such as Airbnb.

amsterdam canal
Amsterdam’s city hall wants to attract tourists who are interested in the city’s culture and history, while discouraging those who solely come for alcohol, drugs and prostitution. ©Screenshot


The local government is also trying to spread tourists over the entire city and surrounding towns to ease congestion in the centre.

It also attempts to attract a more affluent, cultural crowd to the city and to discourage what they consider as lower-end tourism by people solely coming for alcohol, drugs and prostitution, using the example of British stag parties as the kind of tourism which is not wanted.

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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