Amsterdam is taking efforts to scrub away its party image to a new level, with ads suggesting it won't tolerate those descending on the city for a wild weekend. "Coming to Amsterdam for a messy night? Stay away," states an online ad showing a young man stumbling in the street before landing in handcuffs, per the BBC. Another ad showing an unconscious man being transported by ambulance warns of "permanent health damage" from drug use, per CNN. "Visitors will remain welcome, but not if they misbehave and cause nuisance," deputy mayor Sofyan Mbarki says in a release. "In that case we as a city will say, 'Rather not.'"
The "anti-tourism campaign" specifically targets "men aged 18 to 35 in the UK," where travel agencies "offer stag weekends in Amsterdam, including canal boat cruises with unlimited booze, 'steak and strip' nights and red light district pub crawls," the BBC reports. This has been going on for some time. When London's then-mayor Boris Johnson described Amsterdam as "sleazy" in 2014, Amsterdam's then-mayor Eberhard van der Laan blamed British men, who "slalom through the red light district ... dressed as rabbits or priests and sometimes they are not dressed at all."
In response to the ads, some social media users suggested it was no surprise that young men were flocking to a city "with legalized drug cafes and brothels." And some locals said the problem was less about young men and more about the overwhelming number of tourists. Some 20 million visit the city of 883,000 every year. Though Amsterdam is weighing a general tourist tax, it has been targeting the 10% to 15% of the tourist industry based in the red light district for awhile, reports CNN. Billboards already inform tourists that people live in the area. As the BBC reports, new rules imposing closing times on bars and brothels will go into effect this weekend, while a ban on smoking cannabis in the street will be in force in May. (Read more Amsterdam stories.)