By Roland Sebestyén
The owners of cannabis coffeeshops in Amsterdam have been left frustrated, as the city’s Mayor announces a controversial plan to ban foreign tourists in the aftermath of losses inflicted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report by CNBC, tourism in the Netherlands has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions.
Among the most hit businesses are Amsterdam’s cannabis coffeeshops.
Based on the data provided by Statistics Netherlands, CNBC reports that in the second quarter of this year, turnover in accommodation and food services was 52.6% up on the same quarter of 2020 – however, when it comes to the comparison to the same period of 2019, the turnover is now 35% lower.
An employee from Barney’s Coffeeshop told CNBC: “It’s been a quiet year, definitely. Obviously [it’s better] compared to last summer with the corona[virus], but this year it started getting busy, but it’s still nothing compared to the years before.
“Only really French tourists have been coming over, French and Germans, not many English, not many Italians anymore.”
Another, a customer and retail manager for Green House, told how cannabis coffeeshops hasd suffered a lot over the last 18 months.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses lost out on millions of foreign tourists as they were unable to enter the country.
Some of the restrictions still apply to the tourism industry, so coffeeshops are still losing out on a lot of potential revenue.
Aside from the implications of the pandemic, business-owners are also concerned about Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema and her proposal.
The Mayor – and many others in the country – claim that the coffeeshops have become a problem for locals as the cannabis market was “too big and overheated”. This has resulted in calls for reforms to make the market more “manageable.”
Ms Halsema said: “Amsterdam is an international city, and we wish to attract tourists, but we would like them to come for its richness, its beauty and its cultural institutions.
“Coffeeshops, especially in the centre, largely run on tourists. The increase in tourism has only increased demand and attracted hard-drug criminality in the process.”
While cannabis is illegal in the country, possession up to five grams (0.18 ounces) of the drug was decriminalised in 1976. Furthermore, the sale of cannabis products from licensed premises (coffeeshops) is tolerated.