Officials have proposed moving sex workers to an "erotic center" outside the heart of the city.

By Meena Thiruvengadam
February 04, 2021
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Amsterdam's famous city center red light district's days could be numbered. Amsterdam's mayor has proposed closing down city center brothels and relocating the area's nearly 200 workers.

The local government is proposing moving sex workers to a purpose-built "erotic center" outside of the heart of the city, but the union for red light district window workers, Red Light United, says most women don't want to leave the city center. Amsterdam's red light district occupies a collection of narrow streets in the heart of the city near the central train station.

Officials have been pushing changes in the red light district for years, and they say tourists behaving badly are partly to blame. The Dutch capital last year banned city center red light district tours, part of an effort to recast its hedonistic image and to discourage tourists from gawking. Some sex workers in Amsterdam have taken to posting signs asking visitors not to take their photos.

Tourists walking in the red light district of Amsterdam
Credit: Hollandfoto/Getty

"This is about a reset of Amsterdam as a visitor city," Dennis Boutkan, a Dutch Labour Party representative, told The Guardian. "Tourists are welcome to enjoy the beauty and freedom of the city, but not at any cost."

Dutch officials also are considering banning tourists from its world famous coffee shops, which have long been a destination for marijuana smokers from around the world. An estimated 166 coffee shops remain in Amsterdam, according to CNN.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.