(updated on April 02, 2018)
From the 1st of April 2018, all tour guides who work in Amsterdam’s Red Light District will need to have a permit from the City of Amsterdam. This has been decided by the local government. We have been informed about this via several meetings and e-mails from the City of Amsterdam. Tour guides have been able to apply for the new permit for guides in Amsterdam since yesterday (12th of March 2018) 5 pm. After applying for the new permit it will take about a week before the permit is sent to the tour guides via the postal services. All guides will need to have the permit before the 1 April 2018.
The City of Amsterdam, together with other stakeholders, hosted an “Amsterdam Tour Guide Afternoon” in de Bazel on the 13th of March. The goal of the gathering is to give a clear picture of the new permit for guides in Amsterdam. During the afternoon, the City of Amsterdam, tour operators (including us), tour guides and organizers talk to each-other about current developments and changes.
The cost for a single guide permit is 111,40 euros. The permit will be valid for the period starting from 1-4-2018 through to 1-1-2020. The permit is personal and guide bound. The guide must be in possession of the permit if he provides a guided tour in the area. Local enforcement and police officers can ask for this permit and it must be presented.
Tourism and guided tours have been increasing in the Red Light District, locally known as “De Wallen”, leading to crowdedness and congestion in certain areas at certain times and in certain periodes of the year. The two major reasons for the increase in tourism in Amsterdam’s Red Light District can be attributed the local government. In 2007 Amsterdam started with Project 1012 with the aim of “cleaning up” the Red Light District. This lead to the closure of many window brothels thus reducing the size of the Red Light District. At the same time the City of Amsterdam invested heavily into international tourism in a response to the financial crisis and Amsterdam became a popular destination. Fast forward to 2018 and there are far more tourists in Amsterdam than before. Those tourists want to see the now much smaller Red Light District.
To get a grip on the issue the City of Amsterdam first tried to get all the tour operators to voluntarily agree to new rules for guided tours in the Red Light District. Our company voluntarily signed that covenant back in April 2017.
However up-to 60% of the international and national tour operators didn’t take part in Amsterdam’s Red Light District Convenant, like Sandemans New Europe Tours. Some tour operators in Amsterdam bluntly stated that would wait for the law to be changed or else they wouldn’t change their daily operation. They didn’t want to decrease the size of their groups voluntarily, even while residents and prostitutes have been complaining. For this reason the City of Amsterdam has now introduced the new permit system to get a grip on all guided tours in the Red Light District area, including those who didn’t want to sign the convenant.
All guides in the Red Light District will have to get a permit from the City of Amsterdam starting April 1st, 2018. Tour companies and guides will have to adhere to stricter rules set forth by the City of Amsterdam. The new permit for guides in Amsterdam is introduced to alleviate the city bustle within the Red Light District. Guides guiding groups of more than five people will need the permit. This includes new rules: do not dwell at busy places, respect the residents, stand with your back to prostitutes and do not take pictures them, no alcohol, no shouting and no more than twenty people per tour group. The new permit applies to all tours, so also for the pub-crawls, the tours via Segway and tandem bicycle.
The municipality will deploy extra enforcers to check whether the guides are complying with the new rules. In case of three violations the guide loses his or her permit for guides in Amsterdam. When a self employed guide breaks the new rules he or she will have to pay a fine of 190,- euros. If the guide works for a company that company will have to pay a fine of 950,- euros. The permit system for tours in Amsterdam’s Red Light District gives the municipality the power to pick out the bad apples.
As a signer of the at first voluntary Red Light District Covenant, our company was also invited today for the Amsterdam Tour Guide Afternoon. We were given the opportunity to be one of the first tour companies to receive the new permits for its guides.
All our tour guides have received the new obligatory permits from the City of Amsterdam. These official documents are mandated by the local government and, starting April 1st 2018, they are required to able to lead tour groups through the Red Light District. At our tour company we are very proud to have received these permits for all our local guides.