Amsterdam To Move Red Light District Outside The City In Tourism ‘Reset’

by : Emily Brown on :
Amsterdam To Move Red Light District Outside The City In Tourism 'Reset'PA Images

Lovers of long, R-rated weekends in Amsterdam will have to get used to new surroundings in the future as the city is set to move its infamous red light district outside the city centre. 

Councillors in the popular city agreed on plans to relocate the district to a new, purpose-built ‘erotic centre’, though it’s not yet known which area will become home to the explicit businesses and glowing red windows.


The red light district is currently located in De Wallen, a historic part of Amsterdam’s city centre, and is enclosed in a triangle surrounded by Warmoesstraat, Zeedijk and the street running east from Dam Square.

Red light districtPA Images

It is one of the main tourist attractions in Amsterdam, with visitors from across the globe coming to experience the array of brothels and marijuana cafes which border either side of the canal.

Plans to relocate the district were put forward by Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema in a bid to have a tourism ‘reset’ and attract a ‘better quality’ of visitors, according to local media cited by The Independent.


Halsema further hopes the move will make the city centre more liveable and crack down on drugs tourism.

In a statement about the decision, she commented:

These measures aim to result in a better mixture of functions, better control, a valuable visitor economy and strengthening cultural diversity and the local identity, more diverse range of housing and more residents in the inner city, more accessible public space and more greenery.

Femke HalsemaPA Images

Halsema has long campaigned for the end of the red light district, arguing the brothels attracted gawping and abuse from visitors. The decision to close current location has been backed by the VVD, the party of the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, as well as the Labour party and the Greens.


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Dennis Boutkan, of the Dutch Labour party, said relocating the district will allow tourists to ‘welcome to enjoy the beauty and freedom of the city, but not at any cost.’

Halsema has previously interviewed residents, business owners and female workers in the red light district, after which she stated that visitors gawping at the women with no intention of paying for their services was ‘unacceptable.’

In 2019, she vowed to address ‘the humiliation of women by large groups of tourists’.

Red Light DistrictSergey Ashmarin/Wikimedia Commons

A lobby group named Red Light United hit back against the idea to relocate the district following a survey of 170 women working in the area, claiming that 90% of the respondents wanted to stay put.

Speaking to the Het Parool newspaper after the idea was first proposed, per The Guardian, one member of the group stated that ‘relocating the workplaces is not an option because then the customers will not know where to find the sex workers.’

They continued: ‘Will Halsema also sometimes organise bus trips for them to the Westelijk Havengebied [a district north of the city centre]?’


As part of her efforts to overhaul tourism in the city, Halsema has also suggested banning tourists from using Amsterdam’s coffee shops, where cannabis is legally available to use.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Amsterdam, Netherlands, sex workers, Tourism


The Independent and 1 other
  1. The Independent


  2. The Guardian

    Amsterdam to move sex workers out of city centre in tourism ‘reset’