Amsterdam bans Red Light District tours

Posted at 4:57 AM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 04:57:40-04

Amsterdam has moved to end one of the city’s most popular travel activities.

The city government has announced that it will end tours of the Red Light District in the Netherlands’ capital, citing concerns about people — in this case sex workers — being treated as a tourist attraction.

“We do not consider it appropriate for tourists to leer at sex workers,” city alderman Udo Kock, who proposed the bill, said in a statement.

Kock, who is the deputy mayor of Amsterdam, oversees local government departments including public housing and finance.

While the new ruling on tours will affect sex workers in the Red Light District, there will also be repercussions throughout the neighborhood, which is in central Amsterdam and extremely popular with tourists.

Dutch locals have complained about the increase in foot traffic, and measures have been taken to reduce tour group sizes (there is a maximum of 20 people) and to require all tour operators to have formal permits.

The ban will go into effect on January 1, 2020, which gives existing tour companies an opportunity to wind down their business in the Red Light District.

A representative for Viator, the tour company owned by TripAdvisor, tells CNN Travel that they have offered Red Light District tours and that some are still currently listed on their website.

“Several of our advertisers offer experiences in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, and we’re contacting and working directly with these suppliers to ensure all products sold through our sites are in compliance with the regulations by January 1st, 2020,” a spokesperson confirmed to CNN Travel.

“Skip-the-line admission to the Rijksmuseum and a Jewish Quarter Anne Frank walking tour were the most booked experiences among travelers to Amsterdam in 2018,” they add.

Some travel companies are applauding Amsterdam’s decision, saying that the move spurs a bigger conversation about what happens when human beings are treated like pieces of art to gawk at.

Intrepid Travel is among them, having previously banned “orphanage tours.”

“We believe that travel should change the world for the better, while simultaneously providing a great experience for travelers while they learn about the local culture they’re visiting,” says Darshika Jones, the company’s regional director for North America.

“The local people of any destination should never be treated as tourist attractions; instead, a travel experience should have you interacting with locals on the ground in a responsible manner.”

Data released by the Dutch government revealed that 42 million travelers visited the Netherlands in 2017.