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Amsterdam plans to move red light district away from the city and into a purpose-built center / By ANNEMARIE MCCARTHY / Lonely Planet

The red light district is a historic part of Amsterdam © Olena Z / Shutterstock
Tourists to Amsterdam will no longer be able to take a tour of the brothel windows of Amsterdam’s famous red light district under proposed new tourism regulations.

Last April, Amsterdam’s council banned red light tours from the medieval district, also called De Wallen in an effort to tackle its overtourism problem.

Now it’s going one step further with a plan to close the brothel windows of the district and move the “erotic center” away from the city center.

Sex workers have been advised they can move their businesses away from the rabbit warren of laneways and alleys of Singel and De Wallen, and into a new purpose-built center — the location of which is yet to be determined.

Travel News - A German prostitute, called Eve, waits f

Sex workers will set up their businesses in a new purpose-built center © Anoek De Groot / AFP / Getty

Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema said she wants to combat the “rise in human trafficking by providing a safe environment in which sex workers can run their businesses”.

She has also expressed concern about the parade of “gawping tourists” in the red light district.

However, when the idea was first proposed, a lobby group known as Red Light United said that 90% (of 170) female sex workers surveyed wanted to continue working in their current location.

“Relocating those workplaces is not an option because then the customers will not know where to find the sex workers,” activist and sex worker Foxxy told the Het Parool newspaper at the time.

Red light district

Tourists walking down a narrow laneway in the red light district of Amsterdam ©Hollandfoto/Getty Images

In other areas of the city, change is also coming. Tourists will soon be barred from Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops as Halsema limits the shops to residents only.

The city is continuing to reimagine Amsterdam and deal with the huge influx of tourism.

Nineteen million people visited the city in 2018, dwarfing the population of 850,000. Tourist tax on rooms were raised this year and more restrictions have been put on renting out Airbnbs. They’re also halting new tourist-centric shops popping up in the city.

This article was first published on 25 March, 2019 and updated on 2 February, 2021

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