Trying to stop British men coming here is discrimination’: Hundreds of Dutch sex workers protest against tourist chiefs who told UK travellers to ‘stay away’ from Amsterdam
- Amsterdam tourist chiefs launched an advert telling British stag dos to stay away
- Hundreds of sex workers have now rallied in street in support of British tourists
British tourists who go to Amsterdam for rowdy weekend benders have been given support after a government crackdown – by the city’s notorious sex workers.
Dutch tourist chiefs this week launched a controversial advert discouraging nuisance behaviour from boozy stag parties of young men from the UK visiting the city’s famous red light district.
They have warned British men to ‘Stay Away’ from Amsterdam as part of a major new operation to clean up the city and rid it of rowdy and hedonistic behaviour.
But sex workers have come out in support of male British tourists with hundreds holding a protest against the campaign in support of Brits – saying that they are not associated with bad behaviour any more than any other nationality – and attacking the campaign as an attempt to gentrify the heart of the Dutch capital.
Tessa, 43, who touts for sex work from a window on the corner of a canal on Monnikestraat for 17 years said: ‘It is unfair to blame just the English.
Brothel madam Mona, 58, who held up a sign saying she was proud to have a sex business on her property, said: ‘My husband and I run a hotel’
Dutch tourist chiefs this week launched a controversial advert discouraging nuisance behaviour from boozy stag parties of young men from the UK
She spoke as 200 sex workers protested outside Amsterdam’s City Hall against the ‘Stay Away’ campaign and the reduction of the hours they can operate from windows in the red light district.
They confronted Mayor Femke Halsema who was surrounded by police and minders as she heard of their anger and promised she would study their complaints.
Tessa added: ‘Men can be rude and horrible from anywhere in the world.
‘When I came to work today at 5pm there were two men vomiting outside because of drink – btu and they could have been from any country because that is what it is like here.
‘Men come from all over the world to drink and have sex – and most are well behaved.
‘Okay the British can be terrible when they are drunk, but so can the Dutch, Germans and men from Spain.
‘It isn’t about nationality when a drunk man tries to give you 20 Euros for sex when the price is 150 Euros and treats you as if you are not a human being.
‘But I don’t know why Englishmen have been chosen. Maybe because you left the EU?
‘But it is not illegal to pay for sex here or smoke drugs in Amsterdam so the British men should not be thinking of stopping.
Protesters confronted Mayor Femke Halsema who was surrounded by police and minders as she heard of their anger and promised she would study their complaints
Sex workers also protested plans to shutter the city’s historic red light district, to be moved to a new erotic centre, in Amsterdam
‘We as sex workers know that the politicians want to close the red-light area. From this weekend we must start closing early.
‘Usually, I work until 5am and I can be very busy until then. But from Friday we are closing at 3am and this is their way of starting to shut us down.
‘There is much anger among the sex workers here and we have been holding protests outside City Hall.’
Sex worker Laura, 33, from Italy, said: ‘I have never seen a man from Britain behaving badly, and I’ve been working here for six years.
‘It is just propaganda by the politicians Anybody who likes to come to Amsterdam, must realise that they’re trying to get rid of the red light district and taking the fun away from a lot of people. These politicians are killjoys.’
Brothel madam Mona, 58, who held up a sign saying she was proud to have a sex business on her property, said: ‘My husband and I run a hotel.
‘We have many British men who come to Amsterdam and stay with us to take part in stag parties or bachelor parties and meet the sex workers.
‘We have never had any problems from them, expect for a few who may vomit ot sing loudly – and these are not crimes.
‘Trying to stop the British men from coming, here is nothing short of discrimination.’
Brian Pitambalsingh, 60, who owns the Red Light bar said British male tourists were being ‘picked on’ to close down the sex district
Her husband Jan Broers, 85, who runs the Royal Taste Hotel in the heart of the red light district, said: ‘ British man, no problem. Young men cause problems. If they do, regardless from where in the world they are from. It is not down to where they come from.’
Brian Pitambalsingh, 60, who owns the Red Light bar said British male tourists were being ‘picked on’ to close down the sex district.
‘This area has residents living above the windows and they want to turn it into an artistic suburb like the Left Bank in Paris.
‘Many of these people who have bought properties here costing perhaps one million Euros could not have been unaware that sex was being sold under their noses or their homes.
‘I feel they have come from the Dutch country towns and villages and want to re-create that kind of locality here.
‘Selling sex or smoking weed is not a crime in this city and this stupid ‘Stay Away’ thing they are doing is unfair on the sex workers and the UK men.
‘The British say prostitution is the ‘oldest profession in the world,’ so the crazy Amsterdam City Council has to understand it will continue for centuries and centuries no matter how much they try to interfere.
‘The prostitutes are angry not only because of this ‘Stay Away’ bullsh*t, but because Amsterdam wants to move them out from here and are disguising their real motives.’
The protesting Dutch sex workers were joined by two sex workers from Brighton who travelled to Amsterdam to offer their support against the plan to discourage British men from going there. (video)
One protester said: ‘I think that this [government] campaign is painting an extreme picture of situations that are very rare, especially for the people that book our activities’
Sabrina Jade, 24, held up a banner which said ‘Save the red light.’
She said: ‘The Dutch must not use British men as an excuse for shutting down Amsterdam’s red light area.
‘In Brighton sex workers like me don’t have the same protections as people do here and this is why it is important that the Dutch are not allowed to use British tourists to close it down.
‘My sex work in Britain is underground. At least the windows give the people here legitimacy and rights, people are happy with their work.’
Cece Monroe, 23, a British transgender sex worker said : ‘It is wrong to blame the British and ban them from here.
‘It is an attack on the sex industry everywhere, not just in Holland.
‘I can’t even talk openly about what I do in Brighton because I could get arrested there.
‘That is why I have come here, to protect the rights of people who do what I do everywhere.
‘The English men are just been used as a weapon by the Dutch to close down Amsterdam’s red light district. It is not on.’
Wilma, 38, a transgender sex worker from Ecuador, said: ‘Why must these politicians spoil our business and the fun of the Englishmen?
‘I find many of the UK people very friendly and no trouble. They are keen to try something new with a transgender person and it is difficult for them in their home country.
‘Maybe I have 50 clients every week and many from England – and only one or two can be rude.
‘If they are drunk, I try and calm them and make them happy. When they are in this condition they pay more too and that makes me of course happy too.’
Paloma, 53, a transwoman also from Ecuador, added: ‘The British man is the most polite man with the best manners. It is wrong to say they are not good people. Sex is for all, not just people from any particular country.’
Timo Haaker, 29, co-owner of the tourist business Fun Amsterdam which organises stag parties and boat trips for Britons, said the block would have an effect.
He said: ‘Of course it would have an impact because the people of the UK are part of our target audience and we wouldn’t like that to happen.
‘Amsterdam is an extremely popular and fun destination for visitors from all over the world, which can sometimes be overwhelming for the locals.
‘One of the reasons it’s such a nice city to live in and to visit, is that our goverment is working very hard to keep it this way.
‘However, as a local business owner I think that this campaign is painting an extreme picture of situations that are very rare, especially for the people that book our activities.
‘I believe that anyone that comes here to have a good time, and respects the city and locals, should be able to come visit. And the people that come here to misbehave should not be.
‘Within our company we always make sure, whether it’s on our boats, nightlife activities or fun tours that you can have the time of your life in a safe environment without breaking any law. In the end it’s all about respecting the city, and it’s locals, while we make sure they have a great time.’
Amsterdam’s officials have long been trying to curb rowdy behaviour and events such as stags, especially near the famed red light area where sex workers operate.
Councillors have welcomed the measures as a stand against ‘glassy-eyed tourist zombies staggering about’ as Amsterdam became the latest holiday destination to try and discourage british tourists from booze-filled trips.
It comes after British holidaymakers were offended by comments from the president of Lanzarote, María Dolores Corujo, who suggested the island would look to attract ‘higher-quality’ tourists and rely less on Brits.
Amsterdam’s new campaign will involve people seeing special warnings when they search for terms such as ‘stag party Amsterdam’ or ‘pub crawl Amsterdam’.
The campaign features a staged video showing a young man being arrested after he was found stumbling along the city’s streets.
The video features large red and white writing saying: ‘Coming to Amsterdam for a messy night and getting trashed = 140 euro fine and a criminal record.’
The video shows the police officers taking the tourist to a prison cell and making him kneel down in front of a bed in a bizarre scene.
The video is overlaid with red writing which reads: ‘So coming to Amsterdam for a messy night? Stay away.’
Some dramatic music follows this warning, before the video cuts to a white screen showing the city council’s logo as a cheerful piano ballad plays in the background.
‘The campaign will commence in Great Britain, aimed at males in the age category of 18 to 35 years,’ Amsterdam city council said in a statement.
‘This online discouragement campaign is aimed at nuisance tourists who want to visit Amsterdam to ”go wild”, with all the ensuing consequences.’
It would be expanded to ‘potential nuisance-causing visitors from the Netherlands and other EU-countries’ in the coming year, the statement said.
People searching for terms such as ‘stag party Amsterdam’ or ‘pub crawl Amsterdam’ will be shown warning advertisements.
The ads would show the ‘risks and consequences of anti-social behaviour and excessive drug and alcohol abuse’ including fines, arrest, criminal records, hospitalisation and health issues.
Amsterdam recently announced a ban on smoking cannabis in the Red Light district, coupled with further restrictions on alcohol consumption and earlier closures for cafes, bars and sex clubs.
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