Halsema presents detailed plan for a new 'Sex Hotel' in Amsterdam
Plans to move sex workers in Amsterdam to a new ‘erotic center’ or ‘prostitution hotel’ have begun to materialize. This follows years of discussion on how to curb noise and nuisances brought by sex-tourism in the Red Light District.
On Friday, the mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, sent a letter to the local council presenting plans to make de Wallen more habitable. She announced that a substantial number of sex workers who currently work in Red Light District would have to permanently draw the curtains across their windows. Instead, they would have to move to a new ‘erotic center,’ which, according to the plans, would not only contain prostitution but would also present restaurants and cafés.
The plans are based on a market analysis the municipality commissioned from bureau SITE. In order to give an alternative location a real chance of success, and increase the livability for residents of the city center, the number of window brothels in the Red Light District should be significantly reduced, though not eliminated altogether, the market survey showed.
One of the main arguments to close businesses in the Red Light District is overcrowding caused by tourism. Many inhabitants in the area have complained about noise and violence for years. Thus, in the new project, one primary concern is to control the flow of visitors.
The design of the hotel should facilitate this. An initial model for the building shows two cylindrical towers with a ramp. Visitors would use the indoor ramp to past the windows and other types of workplaces (e.g., catering and entertainment). This structure provides many more opportunities to keep a grip on visitors and to prevent nuisances and unsafe situations.
In her letter, Halsema writes about an initial market exploration and a location investigation. The provisional shortlist of possible locations includes the ArenAPoort in Amsterdam-Zuidoost, areas around Sloterdijk in Nieuw-West, and the Hamerkwartier in Amsterdam-Noord. A full list of possible locations is included at the bottom of this article.
Many businesses and sex workers were outraged by Halsema’s letter. One of the women exclaimed, “you can’t throw us out and put us in Noord or Zuid, can you?”
According to Cor Van Dijk, director of two erotic entertainment companies in Amsterdam, the argument of constraining tourism is unfounded. “The Red Light District attracts hordes of tourists not only because of the window prostitution, but also because it is the oldest neighborhood in the city and there has always been a lot of tolerance for tourists,” he says.
He also adds, “you have the coffee shops, entertainment and catering. It is not the case that it suddenly becomes much quieter when you remove the windows. In short, we as entrepreneurs believe that the neighborhood should remain the neighborhood.”
Femke Halsema told AT5 that she was confident in the process. However, she also acknowledges the many challenges that lie ahead. “You cannot change such a historically developed city center by government decree. That takes time, it has to happen organically, people have to start believing in it.”
Shortlist of possible location for Amsterdam's prostitution hotel or center:
- Amstel III in Zuidoost
- Arenapoort in Zuidoost
- Sloterdijk 2 Zuid in Nieuw-West
- Sloterdijk Noord in Nieuw-West
- Zuid/RAI in Zuid
- Hamerkwartier in Noord
- Eenhoorngebied in Oost
- An as yet to be determined "water location"