News & Opinion | July 20, 2020 10:08 am

Amsterdam’s Red Light District Could Be Replaced By a “Prostitution Hotel”

City officials want to cut back on tourism in the city center by relocating its main attraction

red light district
Sex workers are less than thrilled with the idea of relocating to a prostitution hotel.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Sex workers in Amsterdam were recently given the green light to return to work after the pandemic shut down the city’s famed Red Light District for months, but things may not be back to normal in the district for long. As the city rethinks its post-pandemic image, officials are floating ideas on how to cut back on mass tourism in the area, which many residents blame for noise, littering and otherwise disorderly behavior in the city. Naturally, one idea involves a massive overhaul of the Red Light District, which could see the city’s sex workers relocated to a “prostitution hotel” outside the city center, according to CNN.

“We are not against tourism, but the city council should do more to create a better balance between local residents and tourists and (think) about what type of image we want to portray as a city after this crisis,” said Martijn Badir, a policy economist who started a petition urging city officials to restrict the annual overnight tourist stays to 12 million. The petition, which calls for city officials to improve the quality of living for residents by cutting back on tourism, has been signed by 30,000 Amsterdam residents.

Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema was already considering a Red Light District reform before the pandemic, according to CNN. In May, she said that the crisis has emphasized the “urgency to think about the city center of the future.” New rules already in place prohibit tour guides from stopping in front of the windows and ban tourists from photographing sex workers in the district.

Other possible plans involve limiting the number of brothel windows and moving sex workers to a new location. Unsurprisingly, many of the city’s sex workers take issue with these changes.

“That would be extremely dangerous. When you leave your shift at 5 a.m., the robbers will be lining up,” one sex worker told CNN. “We don’t want to move into a prostitution hotel. Here everyone can see us. That’s what makes our jobs safe.”

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