Amsterdam cafes to be freed from low tourist numbers this summer

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View towards Audezeitz Voorburgval, lined with Amsterdam cafes.

Thomas Imo | Photo library | Getty Images

Amsterdam has long attracted millions of tourists from Europe and beyond. Many have been mesmerized by the city with its canals, architecture, museums and, of course, the cannabis-laden cafes and the shy sex industry.

However, Europe’s so-called ‘city of sin’ has not been the same since the Covid-19 pandemic, with more tourists than the year before when the Dutch capital could expect millions of people. visitors every year. He declined to.

Many locals love that they can walk around the city without avoiding the tourist crowds, but Amsterdam’s visitor-dependent businesses, such as cafes that can openly buy and sell cannabis, are in deep trouble. I feel it. We are concerned that local governments will soon further crack down on foreign customers.

“This year has definitely been a quiet one,” Ben, who works at Barneys Coffee Shop, told CNBC on Wednesday. “clearly [it’s better] Compared to last summer in Corona[virus]But this year I’m starting to keep busy, but it’s still nothing compared to a few years ago. Only truly French tourists came. French and German, less English, less Italian more. “

“I don’t think I will recover much because the school holidays are over,” he added.

The Dutch tourism industry continues to recover and there is a way forward before pre-Covid activity levels are seen.

In the second quarter of 2021, sales of accommodation and food services increased by 52.6% compared to the same quarter of 2020 (period covering the first blockade). However, according to data from the Dutch Census Bureau in August, it was more than 35% lower than in the second quarter of 2019, adding that “the pre-Covid level is still far away”.

Customers will buy marijuana on January 8, 2021 at a cafe in downtown Amsterdam. –

EVERT ELZINGA | AFP | Getty Images

Mike, a customer and retail manager at Greenhouse, which owns several coffee shops in Amsterdam, said the business was on the rise, but still down, as the country reopened and restrictions were lifted. Noted.

“The central cafe is busy again… but it is still quieter than a normal year, but it recovered last month,” he told CNBC on Wednesday, making cafes such new rules. He said he had adjusted. As a social distance between the tables and the use of the outdoor terrace.

Mike said the cafe “has suffered a lot” during the Covid-19 blockade for the past 18 months. Dutch authorities initially said cafes were to be closed quickly when the country’s first blockade began last spring.

However, the government quickly did an about-face after a queue outside the cafe. Customers wanted to hide supplies before the shutdown, and authorities feared cannabis sales would soon take to the streets and illegal and unregulated drug trafficking could increase.

Although the sale of drugs is illegal in the Netherlands, the Dutch government allows the sale of soft drugs in strictly regulated cafes.

Yet opening hours were shortened and travel bans kept most of our customers from traveling until this summer when the Netherlands started to visit some countries.

However, visitors from countries with high Covid rates (as in many cases the Netherlands has designated red, orange and green light systems like other countries based on the rate of cases) are always limited. PCR testing and quarantine regulations are in place in some countries. , Discourage even more tourists.

The inhabitants enjoy the peace

Many locals are fed up with a group of young tourists coming to Amsterdam for soft drug tourism and have taken advantage of it in smaller numbers over the past 18 months.

Rike, who has a young daughter living in Amsterdam, told CNBC that she enjoys the quiet city, but thinks the cafe is not a place off-limits to tourists. Other risks, and the ban on tourists, would be discriminatory.

It is forbidden to smoke cannabis outdoors in certain areas of Amsterdam.

Marcel Antonis | AFP | Getty Images

As a resident, Otto, an economics professor who also lives in Amsterdam, “returns” to our own “city center” rather than battling the “screaming, drunk” (stone and drunk) tourists. It was really good. “..

“It was a lot more fun to cycle around town, even without tourist cyclists who had little cycling experience… overall things were actually a lot more comfortable,” he said. declared.

When asked if tourists are boring about cafes, Otto replied, “Yes, especially tourists who come for the store are not always fun companions. “

In particular, Amsterdam has had problems with young tourists, he said, “he feels too confident because they can legally smoke weed despite their young age.”

More crops, less weeds

The Dutch capital attracts a wide range of tourists, from the must-see group of young people who want to explore the city’s cafes, to the latest one-off party to make an inevitable visit to Amsterdam’s main red light district, shop window prostitution. to augment.

However, the city also attracts cultural vultures who yearn to visit the city’s museums and stroll through the picturesque canals, absorbing the unique characteristics of the city. Local authorities seem keen to clean up the city’s image as a party town and instead want to attract more of the latter group of tourists to the city.

Tourists visit Amsterdam’s red light district

SOPA Pictures | LightRocket | Getty Images

Amsterdam mayor Femkeharsema went further and suggested restricting entertainment districts and cafes, which are major attractions for some tourists.

Harsema has proposed moving the city’s red light district to a dedicated “erotic center” outside of the city and banning foreign tourists who are not impressed with such proposals from the city’s cafes.

“They are pulling on their feet [if they do that]“Half of Amsterdam’s atmosphere over the past two decades will be lost,” said Ben of Barney’s Coffeeshop. It’s not just cafes that suffer, but hotels, fast food outlets and everything in between. “

Likewise, Mike of the Greenhouse Coffee Shop Group said such a proposal to ban foreign tourists was “ridiculous” and “would lead to a significant reduction in the number of tourists.”

“I think it is wrong to focus on the tourists who come here and visit the cafe. Almost everyone who comes to Amsterdam at some point decides to go to a cafe just for coffee. Because they are interested. They just want to find out what it looks like, and when you go to one of our cafes it’s not just young Brits who are drunk. No. In fact, most smokers don’t drink. “

“Culture has changed over the past decade and cafes are visited by people of all ages, from 70 to 20, in business suits to relax for about 30 minutes after work,” he said. he declares. paddy field.

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