Author: Danielle Wright University: University of Wolverhampton
This paper discusses how drug tourism has shaped Amsterdam as a destination and shows the positive and negative affects drug tourism has had on the economy and society and how this is governed by politics. The paper will show the affect drug tourism has on the tourists who visit Amsterdam, the local people and also the destination.
Drug tourism, economy, society, politics, tourist drug ban
The Changing Face of Drug Tourism in Amsterdam
The following discussion will particularly focus on Amsterdam and show how drug tourism has shaped the destination by looking at the following factors; politics, the economy and the society. The discussion fits into conference strand 1 as it will take into account the risk of drug tourism and will demonstrate the political, economical and social affects it has on the tourists as well as local people and the destination.
Tourism is one of the leading industries which is a main contributor to the world's economy. Tourism helps improve the economy in countries, especially developing countries as they generate income from tourist expenditure (Harrison, 2001).. Therefore this creates a better lifestyle for the local people. Amsterdam is a good example of a destination with a wealthy economy which has been helped by tourism. In 2010 Amsterdam had a record of 10 million bed nights during that year and had 5.3 million tourist arrivals (Fedorova, 2011). Therefore this shows that Amsterdam as a destination is popular as it attracts so many visitors per year.
There are many attractions in Amsterdam such as the zoo, open air markets, museums and the red light district. One of the main attractions in Amsterdam is the cafes as it is legal in Amsterdam and Holland to sell the drug cannabis for consumption and to smoke. It is estimated the one in four tourists who visit Amsterdam take part in drug tourism (Travel, 2011). Therefore drug tourism is a major contributor to Amsterdam's economy as it attracts so many tourists each year.
Amsterdam's wealthy economy has benefitted the local people by providing them with a better lifestyle. The infrastructure in Amsterdam has been improved by a integrated bus, tram and rail system which runs frequently throughout the city and to the cities airport providing an accessible service for local people as well as tourists, enabling them access to major facilities such as the airport, hotels and all attractions in Amsterdam (Coogan, 2000).
Drug tourism creates a negative image for Amsterdam as a destination as the behaviour of tourists whilst under the influence is often unacceptable, causing brawls in the streets and local people often witness tourists throwing up as they can't handle the strength of the cannabis that they have consumed or smoked. This causes a social confliction for local people as much of the local people benefit from the tourists expenditure as it provides over 50,100 per year (Fedorova, 2011) but they socially do not like the behaviour of tourists, which is often related to drug tourism (Crawford, 2011). This also puts off other tourists from visiting Amsterdam and therefore other attractions have to compete against this niche market.
Drug tourism does not only affect the economy of tourism and the local society. It also affects the tourist as they are at risk of harming themselves or other around them due to the harmful affects drugs have on them. Two thirds of ambulances called for drug related problems in Amsterdam are for tourists rather than local people (Guide, 2005). This puts a strain of the health services in Amsterdam and shows the negative affects drug tourism has on the risks tourists take on holiday. Tourists tend to take more risks whilst away from home than they would in their own country. Therefore they may be tempted to take illegal drugs which are sold on the black market which could have a more negative affect as they are not policed and regulated.
The Holland government have taken into account the negative affects drug tourism has on Amsterdam and are ready to rejuvenate it to other tourist markets rather than the low budget drug tourism market it has been attracting since the hippy-movement in the 1970s. Therefore Holland have proposed to ban tourists from having cannabis when they visit Amsterdam from January 2013. Hence tourists will no longer be able to enter cafes in Amsterdam which sell cannabis. Cafes will be limited to having 2000 members per cafe and will only be open to the Dutch who obtain a 'dope-card' (Crawford, 2011). This is to create a better image for Amsterdam and attract a better class of tourists.
It has created controversy between MPs in Holland as some have called it tourism suicide as they believe drug tourism is a major contributor to the economy. Therefore this may affect Amsterdam's economy as they may loose money. However socially Amsterdam will benefit from a better image and cleaner streets benefitting local people and the remaining three quarters of the tourists that go there. Prostitution will also remain legal for those tourists wishing to seek new experiences. Therefore Amsterdam will be a destination which offeres a diverse range of activities, hoping to attract a range of tourists without creating a negative image from tourist bahaviour such as the drug tourism. The question will remain will Amsterdam survive as a destination due to the changing face of drug tourism? Time will tell.
Coogan, M. A. (2000). Improving public transportation access to large airports. USA: Leigh Fisher Associates.
Crawford, D. (2011, October 17). Ban on skunk \'will cause black market in Amsterdam\'. Retrieved May 4, 2011, from BBC Newsbeat: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/15338078
Fedorova, T. (2011, November). City of Amsterdam: Research and Statistics: Economic Development Department. Retrieved May 4, 2012, from http://www.os.amsterdam.nl/pdf/2011_factsheets_7.pdf