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Amsterdam to ban guided tours through Red Light District from next year

Local authorities said that guided tours in the area are often “not respectful towards sex workers”.

Image: Robin Utrecht SIPA USA/PA Images

FROM 1 JANUARY 2020, it will no longer be permitted for guided tours in the city of Amsterdam to go through the Red Light District, local authorities have said.

Authorities said that tours along the windows cause “a lot of bustle in the Red Light District and are not respectful towards sex workers”. 

“That is why they are no longer allowed from next year,” the city said.

This measure forms part of strict new measures on guided tours in the city that will take effect next year.

This includes the prohibition of free tours and recruiting participants, imposing a tax on tourists who participate in a tour, and a maximum of 15-20 on these tours.

Currently, those offering tours in the Red Light District must apply for a special exemption and abide by certain rules. From next year, guided tours throughout the city will need to apply for these exemptions.

In evaluating the current exemption system, the city said that tours were still causing a nuisance for locals in Amsterdam. 

A survey found that 80% of sex workers say the tourists being given the guided tours “have a negative impact” on their business, while a number of the workers are still experiencing abusive behaviour and unwanted photography.

More than 1,000 groups pass through the Oudekerksplein square in the Red Light district every week, and anyone who offer tours illegally will liable for a fine of €190, with fines rising as high as €2,500 for companies who repeatedly break the rules.

This is the latest of a series of steps from the Dutch capital to ease the pressure from tourism. Some 18 million tourists flock to Amsterdam every year – more than the entire population of the Netherlands.

The city has taken major steps to push back against unruly visitors, mainly groups of young men who roam the Wallen at weekends, on pub crawls or to celebrate stag parties drawn by easy access to drugs and prostitution.

It has instituted stiff fines and penalties for breaking public disturbance laws, while in August 2017 it announced compulsory clean-up breaks in streets and monitoring of crowds.

With reporting from AFP

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Sean Murray

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