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The Traveller's Magazine
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Considering Amsterdam’s biggest draw for millions of tourists a year are their notorious (and smoky) coffee shops, this news from the government isn’t going to win the city or the country any new fans any time soon. In hopes of ending drug tourism in the Netherlands, tourists will soon be banned from buying cannabis at coffee shops.

Since 1976 there’s been one place of haven for pot-smoking travellers and that’s Amsterdam. Labelled “coffee shops” these dark and smoky cafés have been weighing up and dishing out weed to tourists and locals alike for 35 years. Since then, these shops have become a main-stay for Dutch tourism and the reason so many Britons book flights to Amsterdam when it comes time for cheap weekend getaways.

No more coffee shops?

The city plans to introduce memberships to the infamous coffee shops effectively making it impossible for tourists to enjoy the laid-back flow of the city that so many tourists have enjoyed until now. Membership will be restricted to residents only aged 18 and up. Each shop will be allowed a maximum of 1,500 members, inevitably capping locals as well from their favourite spots. While nothing has been passed in legislation yet, it’s expected to happen in the next couple months so if you’re intrigued and curious about Amsterdam’s “coffee shop” tourism, you better check it out while you can!

Amsterdam’s tourist board estimates that one in 14 people visit Amsterdam to experience the city’s 220+ coffee shops. A for overnight travellers, around 25% visit at least one during their 24 hour jaunt in the city. Up to one million Britons travel to Amsterdam every year, will this new ban kill Amsterdam tourism? Surprisingly many people don’t know that soft drugs, like cannabis, are actually illegal in the Netherlands. BUT the local authorities are quite lax on enforcing it, saying that buying for personal use is okay. That means that coffee shops are allowed to sell 5g per person, per day.

Heading to the Netherlands? Visit Amsterdam like a local.

Have you ever experienced Amsterdam’s coffee shops? How do you think this new regulation will affect tourism?

Img: Arthur40A / Flickr cc.

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10 responses to “Amsterdam to ban tourists from their notorious coffee shops

  1. the worrying thing here is that you have a right wing government that wants a list of all dutch nationals who smoke pot then what happens when they change their stance on cannabis all together and then they have a list of people they know are breaking the law and can be prosecuted for it, now that is a dangerous thought and surely is illegal

  2. Above is bull, The only reason Amsterdam has that atmosphere is because of the freedom to do what you want in a sensible and harmless matter, Take away the weed all you will have is a boring lifeless city, it is the freedom of Amsterdam that attracts so many. If they take away the ability to purchase weed from legitimate sources, it will push the industry into the dodgy gangs that plague the city. What will be next, Taking away weed from the Dutch nationals??? This is the work of the Fascist EU and it will continue until nobody is able to enjoy their life and their freedom to choose what they want to do. Whoever supports this attack on personal freedom doesnt understand the implications it will have in the future

    1. With such passion, I imagine you’ll be at the front of the picket lines of tourists protesting Amsterdam’s move to made the main product of their coffee shops for resident’s only!

    2. Could not possibly agree more with S Donney. They cant ban weed in Amsterdam, the gangs would be rife, even now with the illegal hard drugs, you get guys grabbing you on the street if you walk too close, you get kids as young as 12 selling smack on the streets (you REALLY do), the banning of weed for tourists will make the cities crime rate go through the roof as tourists flock into the alleyways to get some pot on the side. In my opinion the worlds council, whether it be unified with the majority of countries or just the big players, should get together, legalise / decriminalise cannibis usage for medical use or otherwise and then discuss the best way to generate the absolute top revenue they can from the sale and allowance of the most fantastic substance on the face of the earth. The worlds economy would be SOOOO healthy. They think they make a lot of the sale of alcohol???… Someone needs to get really and talk to some stoners, they are some of the most intelligent people on the planet (of course there are many exceptions). Smokers dont want trouble, they want peace and reggae music to smoke a roach to. WAKE UP GOVERNMENT.

  3. We visited Amsterdam in 2004 and not because of the coffee shops. We planned on staying in Amsterdam for 4 days and ended up extending our visit by 2 days. We absolutely loved the city and every day at 4:30 PM we went for coffee. See you later in the week Amsterdam, for another fantastic 3 days……

    1. Wow Tindam, Sounds like you had a great visit to Amsterdam! It’s a great city that you can just keep going back to again and again, that’s for sure. There’s always something new to discover and what’s not to love about the vibe of the city?

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