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Sunday 12 February 2023

Amsterdam wants to scare away dope smoking tourists

The last time I visited Amsterdam there was fellow running around the streets menacing people with a machete.

He was clearly high on a substance a little stronger than cannabis.

But the good people of Amsterdam council are now apparently worried about marijuana tourism.

They are to launch a "stay away" campaign in the northern spring targeting tourists travelling to the capital for drugs, alcohol and sex purposes.

Which are, of course, three of Amsterdam's major tourism drawcards, whether the good local burghers like it or not.

The city's mayor is hoping to curb crime by banning smoking marijuana outdoors from mid-May.

Good luck with that.

Apparently, residents in the city centre have complained that tourist-fuelled nightlife noise has made the city unbearable.

The Dutch capital has long been known for its liberal attitude to drug use and sex work but will ban the smoking of cannabis on the streets of its red-light district, city authorities.

The ban, which will come into effect in mid-May, is seeking to tackle crime and anti-social behavior to improve the quality of life for the area's residents.

Amsterdam is a popular tourist hotspot and its marijuana cafes as well as its brothels and strip clubs draw in millions of visitors every year.

The real problem is not a marijuana smoking - it is an overabundance of tourists in cities that are relatively small.

Venice suffers from similar problems, as does Prague - neither of which are dens of drug smoking mania. Rome, too, and Dubrovnik.

What has happened in these cities - and many others - is that they have promoted themselves to tourists, and then discovered they lack the necessary infrastructure for the masses.

"Residents of the old town suffer a lot from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse in the streets," Amsterdam city fathers and mothers said in a statement.

"Tourists also attract street dealers, who in turn cause crime and insecurity," it added.

But therein lies a problem. 

Tourists are highly unlikely to flock to Amsterdam for the local cuisine, so when businesses start losing money my bet is that dope smokers will be welcomed back with open arms.

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