Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam has a new vision of the city and the coffee shops when tourism gets going again.
Halsema, who began his six-year tenure as mayor in 2018, has tabled a proposal that would ban tourists from visiting the city's coffee shops.
In a letter dated 8 January, Halsema explains her proposal, which includes stricter rules for the coffee shops, such as preventing them from becoming multi-store chains, and limiting access for local citizens.
The proposal has generated mixed reactions, various media report. Halsema will discuss the plan with municipal councilors later this month.
Halsema told newspaper The Guardian that too many cannabis shops had grown and that some of them have links to organized crime.
“Amsterdam is an international city and we want to attract tourists, but because of its wealth, beauty and cultural institutions,” said Halsema, adding that the city would still remain “open, welcoming and tolerant” to the shops.
Amsterdam follows suit with coffee shops like other cities
Some jurisdictions in The Netherlands have already introduced similar tourist bans, such as the cities of Maastricht and Den Bosch, which tried to drastically reduce the number of cannabis tourists from Belgium, Germany and France.
There are currently some 166 cannabis cafés in Amsterdam. A government study found that the city would have to have fewer than 70 if visitors to the city were denied access to the shops.
If the city goes ahead with the plan, Halsema said the transition could take months.
According to Joachim Helms, a spokesperson for the Association of Cannabis Retailers, representing coffee shop owners, the proposed changes would actually force tourists to buy their cannabis in a different way.
“Cannabis is a popular product that people around the world enjoy,” he said. “People want to smoke their joint. If that doesn't work in a coffee shop, they buy it on the street. “
Last summer a petition was organized calling for tourism to be reduced to a maximum of 12 million overnight stays in Amsterdam per year.