Their targets are the hordes of partying tourists that descend on the capital and their message is clear, ‘respect our city or pay the consequences’.
In some cases, those payments could be quite steep; urinating in a canal, for instance, risks a fine of €140; public drunkenness will cost €95. Disturbing the peace in public places or dropping litter could also cost €140. To reinforce the point – and collect the cash – police and enforcement officers have been issued with mobile, on-the-spot payment equipment.
Those involved have collectively raised €225,000 to pay for a campaign that rams home the message via online adverts on booking and weather websites, plus physical adverts at airports. It even includes alerts being sent to this group’s mobile phones on social media when they enter the red light district, central train station and nightlife streets.
Clearly the Dutch, who have a well deserved reputation for liberalism, are fed up with being taken for a ride. This campaign forms part of a wider reaction to push back against what the Dutch perceive to be the ‘Disneyfication of Amsterdam’.
Other measures have included banning touring cars and Airbnb-type rental in certain areas as well as diverting cruise ships. They have also raised tourist taxes to 7% to pay for the extra €105m a year needed to put more police on the streets.
Pim Evers, the chairman of the Amsterdam branch of the Dutch Hospitality Association, KHN, whose members contributed to the campaign seemed to encapsulate the Dutch view of life when he said, “Yes, you can look at the ladies and buy some sex; you can have a joint and alcohol. But please be quieter, and don’t leave rubbish or urinate on the street.”