Amsterdam is to ban guided tours to the famous red-light district, where sex workers run their businesses, starting 1 January. The measure is expected to help preserve the old city centre from crowds of tourists flooding its streets. It is intended to put an end to behaviour of tourists that is "not respectful" towards prostitutes. Both paid and free tours will be forbidden.
“It is no longer acceptable in this age to see sex workers as a tourist attraction”, city Councillor Udo Kock said, cited by The Guardian.
However, not only visiting the red-light district will be limited, as the city council is also reducing the maximum number of people allowed in organised groups in other districts of the city centre from 20 to 15. The authorities will order all guides to obtain a council permit and follow strict rules of behaviour.
The newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reports that bar crawls and red-light district tours have overflowed the area with more than 1,000 tour groups heading to the central square.
Amsterdam’s first female mayor, Femke Halsema, appointed in July 2018, earlier stated that the city’s tradition of open prostitution needs legal changes and voiced her intention to address the problems with a package of reforms, to be drawn up no later than summer 2019.
The official also criticised the situation whereby prostitutes had been turned into an attraction for guided tours in Amsterdam, with onlookers swarming the red-light district, which she defined as “humiliating” and “unacceptable”. She also stated that the safety and working conditions of prostitutes in the red-light district have been worsened because of the influx of prying sightseers. According to a survey, 80% of sex workers indicated that peeking tourists have a negative impact on their business, prompting councillors to consider relocating the renowned district.