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Amsterdam is more popular than ever -- and the natives are sick of it

Reuters 2017-12-05 21:53:34

Amsterdam is a European tourist hotspot, welcoming over six million foreign visitors annually, and not all residents think that's a good thing: (SOUNDBITE) (English) AMSTERDAM RESIDENT WHO LIVES NEXT TO THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT, BERT NAP, SAYING: "People are coming to Amsterdam -- seem to be coming to Amsterdam -- to have a party, to have their party in my part of town, and I don't like that." The city is known as a place for cheap alcohol, drugs, and sex. But Amsterdam has spent the past decade trying to rebrand itself as a cultural and historical hub. Only last month the city's popular beer bike was banned from the city centre, to the likely dismay of bachelor parties. Some Marijuana cafes close to schools have also been shut down- and in 2008 the city shuttered a third of its brothels. The city center's street manager is among those campaigning for change. (SOUNDBITE) (English) STREET MANAGER OF THE HISTORIC CITY CENTRE OF AMSTERDAM, ANNEMIEKE BIERINGA, SAYING: "We need, I think, a mere upgrade image, because once you are in Amsterdam you'll see that booze isn't for free, drugs isn't for free and sex especially is not for free. So the image that it's all cheap is not correct. I think we need, if we want to accommodate tourists who are interested in the historic, and the special character of Amsterdam, that we do need an image change." But residents are also vexed about another type of migrant: the white-collared office worker. Brexit is expected to trigger an influx of bankers. It also led to the city being chosen to host the European Medicines Agency - relocated from Britain as its EU exit nears. While that might seem a welcome arrival, locals fear it will just drive up rents and property prices.