Red-light district guided tours to be banned in Amsterdam

Red-light district guided tours to be banned in Amsterdam

As of January 1, 2020, Amsterdam will ban guided tours of its world-famous red-light district. There are two main reasons: the historic area has become too crowded in recent years and the tours are disrespectful to the sex workers.

Overcrowded historic city streets 

Oudekerksplein is just one example of a red-light district location which has become a hotspot where tour groups congregate. Up to 48 different tour groups per hour have been known to converge at this historic city square and the weekly average of tour groups stopping there is 1.000.

Guided walking tours with titles such as “Red light tours with Mistress Lola”, as well as beer-fuelled pub-crawls through the bars and pubs in the area, have had a “magnetic effect” on hordes of tourists.

Tourist numbers reached 19 million in 2018 and the mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, predicts that numbers could reach 29 million by 2025. Considering that Amsterdam currently has 850.000 residents, a continued increase in tourist numbers would be disastrous for city dwellers. Locals have voiced their concerns that tourists are making it almost impossible to live in the city centre.

Sex workers as a tourist attraction

A recent survey has shown that 80 percent of sex workers say that being stared at by passing tourists is bad for their business. City councillor Udo Kock said that it is “no longer acceptable in this age to see sex workers as a tourist attraction.”

Measures to reduce tourism in the Dutch capital

Throughout the rest of the historic centre, a maximum of 15 participants can take part in a guided tour, regardless of whether the tour is free or paid. The tour operators will have to have permits and there will be a strict code of behaviour for all participants.

Amsterdam has also begun initiatives to reduce the number of shops that blatantly target tourists. Additionally, it's going to make Airbnb more strictly regulated, put a stop to new hotel developments and increase tourist taxes.

Rachel Deloughry


Rachel Deloughry

Rachel is a writer, editor and digital content creator, passionate about the arts, culture and lifestyle.

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