In a new move to discourage tourists from coming to Amsterdam simply to party, the municipality has launched a new online campaign called Stay Away, which directly targets 18 to 35-year-old British men who are planning to visit the Dutch capital to “let loose”. 

Amsterdam struggling to manage tourist numbers

The past several years have seen the municipality of Amsterdam take several steps in an attempt to limit the disruption and disturbances caused by tourists visiting the city simply to drink beer, smoke weed, and experience the Red Light District. So far, these steps have included putting up signs to remind visitors (and locals) of the fines they risk for unruly behaviour, and a ban on outdoor smoking in the Red Light District

Now, the city has turned to more drastic measures, designed to stop the issue at the root. On Tuesday, the municipality announced its new Stay Away campaign: an online “discouragement campaign” that “focuses on nuisance tourists who want to come to Amsterdam to let loose, with all the consequences that entails.” 

“Visitors remain welcome, but not if they misbehave and cause a nuisance. Then we as a city say: rather not, stay away,” city alderman Sofyan Mbarki said in a statement. “But to keep our city liveable, we now opt for limitations instead of irresponsible growth.”

Municipality hopes video ads will keep rowdy tourists away

The campaign works by targeting those who enter search queries such as “stag party Amsterdam”, “cheap hotel Amsterdam” and “pub crawl Amsterdam” into Google, and showing them video ads which have been created to “show the risks and consequences of nuisance and excessive alcohol and drug use” in Amsterdam:

For now, the campaign is just targeted at British men between the ages of 18 and 35, but the municipality says that over the course of the coming months it will be reassessed and possibly further developed and expanded to other Dutch cities and other European countries. For now, it will work in conjunction with the new How to Amsterdam campaign, which focuses on tourists who are already in the city.

Dutch criticise Stay Away, say it will be ineffective

Unsurprisingly, the campaign was quick to make international headlines – especially in the UK – and has already drawn criticism, both at home and abroad. The Guardian notes that when its reporters “visited the city centre on Tuesday afternoon, young, male British tourists were not to be found, although there were Frenchmen, Belgians, Italians and Spaniards shopping for cannabis.”

Talking to the BBC, Amsterdam coffeeshop owner Joachim Helms explained that his customers “came from all social and economic walks of life,” and argued that “attempts to exclude some based on their age and gender violated the principles of freedom, tolerance and equality that Amsterdam prides itself on.”

The campaign has also been criticised on social media, with a number of Dutch Twitter users pointing out that it’s unlikely to achieve results. Several suggested other solutions, such as raising the tourist tax, setting a cap on the number of tourists, or implementing rules that prevent non-residents from buying cannabis in coffeeshops.

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