Tourists Could Be Banned From Amsterdam’s Famous Coffee Shops

Photo by: Maria DiPietro 

Written by Rita Thompson


Amsterdam could be banning tourists from their cannabis-friendly coffee shops in an effort to improve locals’ quality of life. 

Tourism Taking Over

Currently home to 1.1 million people, the city attracts almost 17 times their population in visitors per year. The main attraction for many being the city’s famous coffee shops, where patrons can freely purchase and consume cannabis.

Current law’s in the south of the country dictate that cannabis cafes may require proof of national residency from customers. However. the rule is not enforced in tourist destinations like Amsterdam. 

The possible change in policy comes alongside tourists’ frequent abuse of the city’s lenient cannabis laws. 

Survey Says…

A recent survey by mayor Femke Halsema questioned 1,1000 international tourists in the infamous Red Light District—the goal being to determine, “what would happen with the willingness of tourists to visit Amsterdam if the availability or accessibility of one or more of these factors would decrease or disappear?”

Unsurprisingly, over 50% of young tourists revealed that they were attracted to the city for its famous cannabis cafes. 

According to the survey, 65% of tourists aged 18-35 visited a coffee shop during their visit to the Dutch capital. Thirty-four percent of respondents indicated that they would come to the city less often if they could not access cannabis cafes, and 11% stated that they would be less likely to travel there at all. 

Is Tourism Really Dependent on These Cannabis Cafes?

Frequent traveler, Catherine Riggins, 21, explained to the Emerald that, “cannabis cafes are a part of the aesthetic in Amsterdam. Yes, it’s a beautiful city regardless, but that is just why a lot of tourists go there… [that] and the Red Light District.” 

Still, other young travelers would love to visit the city regardless of access to cannabis cafes. Lauren Horne, 21, visited Amsterdam last year and would be quick to return. “I would still go to Amsterdam [with or without coffee shops] because it was a beautiful city with lots of cool architecture and history.”

Whether or not the city decides to go through with the ban, we doubt they’ll see any lessening of tourism. Full of amazing museums, stroop waffles, and a whole lot of history, Amsterdam is far from lacking in tourist attractions


Emerald contributor since June 2019


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