Amsterdam tells young British men who want a ‘messy’ weekend to stay away

·2-min read

The city of Amsterdam is geo-targeting a campaign to tell young British men wanting a “messy” weekend to stay away.

Research has suggested these Britons aged 18-35, and Dutch men of a similar age, tend to cause most nuisance in the red light district, with stag parties, pub crawls and all-night drink and drug benders making life unbearable for residents.

The online campaign, which starts this week, will be triggered when people in Britain enter terms into search engines such as “stag party Amsterdam”, “cheap hotel Amsterdam” and “pub crawl Amsterdam”. They will see warning video adverts describing the risks and consequences of excessive alcohol and drug taking: fines, a criminal record, hospitalisation and permanent health damage.

Related: Amsterdam to outlaw cannabis-smoking in red-light district streets

Sofyan Mbarki, deputy mayor for economic affairs and the inner city, said the city was doing more than others in Europe to reject “irresponsible” growth: “Visitors are still welcome, but not if they misbehave and cause nuisance. As a city, we are saying: we’d rather not have this, so stay away,” he said in a press statement.

The campaign will start with Britain, then be expanded to the Netherlands and beyond. A side-by-side “how to Amsterdam” drive will include posters, screens in hotel lobbies and hosts approaching people to remind them of their manners. The city’s “visitor economy vision” includes an earlier closing for brothels and bars starting this weekend, a ban on cannabis smoking in public in central Amsterdam from May, and controversial plans to move the red light district partly to an erotic centre.

Marco Lemmers, chief executive of Conscious Hotels, said he would prefer a positive campaign in the style of Switzerland’s. “You could show people that they will get in trouble with certain behaviour, with a bit of humour, but you shouldn’t act like everyone who comes here for a wedding is a criminal!” he said. “You should read what the Dutch get up to on the Costa Brava in Spain! Has Amsterdam even thought of the potential collateral damage for the Netherlands as a destination as a whole?”

When the Guardian visited the city centre on Tuesday afternoon, young, male British tourists were not to be found, although there were Frenchmen, Belgians, Italians and Spaniards shopping for cannabis. But Keeley Harris, 23, visiting the red light district from Essex, thought the campaign was a good idea. “My cousin came and stayed in a hotel here and didn’t get much sleep,” she said. “It was noisy all night.”