By Hannah Sampson
The latest tourism-related ads from the city of Amsterdam look more like scenes from “Cops”.
Over footage of a lurching man getting cuffed, placed into the back of a police car and sitting in a cell, a message warns that “getting trashed” in the city known for its cannabis cafés and brothels could lead to a €140 (about R2 700) fine.
“So, coming to Amsterdam for a messy night? Stay away,” says the ad, which went online on Tuesday.
Another video depicts a young person, who is passed out on a park bench, getting loaded into an ambulance before lying in a hospital bed. The message, about the dangers of drug use, is the same.
The local government says the ads are part of an online “Stay Away” campaign targeted at British men between 18 and 35. The initiative seeks to discourage so-called “nuisance tourists” who have plagued the Dutch capital for years.
Officials say visitors from elsewhere in the Netherlands and other EU countries could be added later.
A news release promoting the campaign says potential visitors who use search terms including “stag party Amsterdam”, which references bachelor parties, as well as “cheap hotel Amsterdam” and “pub crawl Amsterdam” will be served warning ads that include the risks of overindulging in alcohol and drugs.
The messaging could evolve in the coming months, according to the city.
“Visitors will remain welcome, but not if they misbehave and cause nuisance,” deputy mayor Sofyan Mbarki said. “In that case, we, as a city, will say: rather not, stay away.”
The “Stay Away” effort begins as Amsterdam is scheduled to start rolling out anti-nuisance measures it approved late last year.
The city previously said that starting in April, it would enforce earlier closing times for some businesses including brothels, restaurants and sex clubs with catering licences.
A new rule banning pot-smoking in the streets of the Red Light District is expected to go into effect in mid-May.
Under a tolerance policy for weed in the Netherlands, people are not prosecuted for buying up to five grams of cannabis, which is sold in coffee shops.
The city says another campaign is launching for visitors who are in town, to show them “How to Amsterdam”. Key points, which will be communicated online and via physical signs, include: no public urination, loud noise or buying drugs from street dealers.
City officials say they are also in talks with organisers of stag parties about how they can help address disruptive tourism.
Mbarki says Amsterdam has taken significant measures against “excessive tourism”, but needs to do even more.
“Amsterdam is a metropole and crowds and bustle are inherent features, but to keep our city liveable we now have to choose for restriction instead of irresponsible growth,” he said.
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