In response to an increase in bad behavior among tourists, Amsterdam has decided to implement on-the-spot fines to curb antisocial conduct. The measure is particularly aimed at young British and Dutch men, ages 18-34, who have earned a reputation for letting loose in the Dutch capital.

The city recently launched the Enjoy and Respect campaign, a joint effort of the city council, the police and the hospitality industry, in an attempt to put an end to nuisance tourism. Behaviors that have been targeted with fines are urinating in a canal (€140), public drunkenness (€95), disturbing the peace or dropping litter (€140). The campaign reminds tourists that even though the fines are steep, doing the right thing is free.


“It is a daring campaign because it’s about behaviour,” says Amsterdam Marketing’s CEO Frans van der Avert. “A lot of other campaigns are about forbidding things and that doesn’t work. People are welcome here but have to treat the city and the citizens with respect.”

British and Dutch men have been singled out because many tend to visit the liberal Dutch capital “to go wild and party all night.” The new campaign equips police officers with mobile, on-the-spot payment systems, which officials hope will have an immediate effect on bad behavior. Analysis of the situation found that most nuisance tourists tend to be on a budget, and will respond to clear language and hefty fines.

The six-month campaign will invest €225,000 in online advertising on booking and weather websites, as well as, ads at airports. Using GPS technology that triggers a response when a mobile device enters a certain area, the campaign will alert target groups when they wander into the red light district, the train station or busy streets. The system, according to Van der Avert, requires consent in order to respect new data protection laws.

In an effort to combat the so-called Disneyfication of Amsterdam, the government has banned Airbnb-type rentals in the downtown area, diverted cruise ships and prohibited party buses. Tourist taxes have also been raised to 7%, which will add €105 million a year to the city's budget to subsidize additional law enforcement.

According to Pim Evers, chairman of the Amsterdam branch of the Dutch Hospitality Association, “It seems like everything is possible – and that’s the thing we have to change. Yes, you can look at the ladies and buy some sex; you can have a joint and alcohol. But please be quieter, and don’t leave rubbish or urinate on the street.”

Stephen Hodes, who launched the independent thinktank, Amsterdam in Progress, doesn’t believe the measures go far enough. He is convinced that the problem can only be solved by limiting the number of tourists and flights. Last year, the number of nights spent by tourists in the Netherlands rose by 13%.

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“It’s a city where freedom is important and you have to accept a degree of nuisance, but it’s now out of hand,” Hodes said. “The crux of the problem is that there are too many tourists. The only thing to do is to take radical measures, otherwise it’s a consumption ghetto, not a city where people live.”