AMSTERDAM (Agencies): Amsterdam officials have unveiled a proposal to move the city’s notorious ‘red light district’ to a purpose-built ‘Erotic Center’ in the southern part of the city. The initiative aims to shed the area’s debauched image, reduce crime, and alleviate the impact of tourism. Mayor Femke Halsema identified Europa Boulevard as the prime location for the new Erotic Center, which is expected to have 100 rooms for sex workers.
Halsema, a vocal critic of the historic red light district known as De Wallen, where sex workers stand in neon-lit windows, stated that the proposal would be presented to the city council early next year, with the center anticipated to open in seven years.
Europa Boulevard, near Amsterdam’s business district, was chosen from three proposed sites. While prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, it is limited to specific locations with permits. The red light district currently has approximately 250 active windows.
The Erotic Center’s windows will be located exclusively inside the building, aiming to combat sightseeing tourism and deter disruptive groups. This move aligns with broader efforts to reshape Amsterdam’s image as a European ‘party capital.’
However, the plan has faced criticism from sex workers, residents, and businesses near the proposed center. Critics argue that punishing sex workers for issues related to crowds in De Wallen is unfair. Some view the proposal as a form of gentrification, and the European Medicines Agency expressed concern about the safety of its staff near the new location.
Opposition to the move is evident, with tens of thousands signing a petition against the transfer. Some advocate for increased police activity in De Wallen instead. Amsterdam’s recent ‘stay away’ campaign targeting tourism, particularly British men aged 18-35, adds to the city’s multifaceted approach to addressing its evolving image.