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Is Amsterdam Calling Time on the Lads' Weekend?

Amsterdam's red-light district, De Wallen
Amsterdam's red-light district, De Wallen | Amy Wren / © Culture Trip
Your Amsterdam stag do has just become a stag don’t.

The Dutch capital, with its A–Z list of legal substances and infamous legal red-light district, has long been a reliable choice for a certain type of lads’ weekend. But perhaps no longer.

Enjoy and Respect, an anti-drunkenness campaign launched by the Dutch city on Thursday, 31 May, is blowing the whistle on the ‘offensive behaviour’, administering fines of up to €140 (£123) for public intoxication, noise, littering and public urination.

The campaign specifically targets British and Dutch male tourists aged 18–34. According to Amsterdam Marketing, who spearheaded the initiative, this demographic frequently visits Amsterdam at weekends to drink and party, and ‘all too often the result is drunkenness, noise in the street, litter and public urination’.

The campaign intends to housebreak the tourists in question through a series of adverts which aim to teach them the standard of behaviour the city expects and remind them of the consequences of breaking the law. The graphics use comparison to make their point. ‘Bursting for the loo?’ one asks, displaying an image of a Portaloo on the sidewalk. A red box drawn around the toilet facility states ‘free’, whereas the same outline placed on the sidewalk depicts the €140 alternate choice.

Seems like a no-brainer © Amsterdam Marketing

The same layout applies in the other graphics from the campaign, which similarly warn lads-on-tour of the €140 fine for singing outdoors and dumping rubbish and the €95 (£83) punishment for ‘booze and banter’.

In March 2018, an incident occurred involving eight British male tourists arriving into Amsterdam on the train from Brussels. By the time they had pulled into Amsterdam station, the crew had not only engaged in a violent brawl but defecated on the floor of the train’s toilet facilities. This is just one example of the type of behaviour the new initiative hopes to combat.

Considering its history as a fun-filled, anything-goes city, it’s no surprise that this type of raucousness is ripe in the Dam. Enjoy and Respect is seeking to remind its target group that just because fun is encouraged in Amsterdam, it should never be had at the expense of common decency and respect.

‘Amsterdam is famous as an open, creative, innovative and tolerant city, where the limits of what is allowed are wide,’ says Amsterdam Marketing. ‘The city has an international reputation for freedom – the freedom to be who you are, believe what you like and say what you think. But this freedom depends on a crucial precondition: mutual respect.’