Entrepreneurs in and around the Red Light District are shocked by the calls from employers and the business community to regulate the prostitution sector and coffee shops more strictly. “Unheard of and indicative that we were not involved.”
This is stated in a press release by Cor van Dijk, director of the Otten Group, the company behind erotic entertainment such as Casa Rosso and the Bananenbar. Van Dijk and a few street managers around Nieuwmarkt, Hoogstraten and Wallen are furious with the large employers’ organizations and no longer want to sit down with these trade associations. Catering entrepreneur Won Yip and the Association of Cannabis Retailers (coffee shop owners) support the plea.
Van Dijk responds to a 10-point plan from employers’ organizations such as VNO-NCW Metropool, MKB Amsterdam, catering association KHN Amsterdam and Winkeliersvereniging City, which was published in Het Parool on Friday. In it, Mayor Halsema and the city council are called on, among other things, to quickly and radically change the ‘coffee shop and window prostitution policy. “That’s not how you deal with a constituency,” Van Dijk writes furiously. “And certainly not in corona time!”
The organized business community wants Amsterdam’s image to change so that the city attracts a different kind of tourists after the pandemic ends. Fear is the situation of last summer, when mainly young tourists from neighboring countries managed to find the center. They seemed to come mainly to smoke weed and watch the sex workers in the Red Light District.
Among other things, the residence criterion is proposed by the organized business community as a possible measure. With this existing legislation, which is not enforced in the capital, foreign visitors can be banned from coffee shops. The employers’ organizations also explicitly call the window brothels a “magnet with a negative effect and appearance” and want radical changes. Politically, this call is also getting louder: this summer, the opposition party VVD joined a motley coalition of parties that want to stop drug tourism.
The anger of Van Dijk and his relations is mainly focused on the Amsterdam City Association (VAC), which represents retailers in the city center. “Without consultation with its supporters, VAC placed the open letter with the 10-point plan prominently on its website,” said Van Dijk. “VAC thus gives the impression that all entrepreneurs from the Amsterdam city center are behind the content of the open letter. Nothing is less true. Apologies are therefore in order. ”
Mayor Halsema has previously said that she will be publishing a memorandum this fall on “local regulation” of the soft drugs market. Various scenarios are also being investigated for the future of prostitution, including by relocating the sector to indoor erotic centers and then closing the window brothels.