Dutch "coffee" shops attract Belgians Thurs 03/11/05 - The majority of frontier "Coffee" shops' clientele are Belgian. Soft drug outlets in Terneuzen (NL) attract few Dutch users compared to the number of Belgians who can't kick the habit. Research carried out by Ghent University into the clientele of two "coffee" shops in Terneuzen (NL) showed that two out of three customers are Belgian. One in three visitors to the shops for soft drugs come from France; barely 12% are Dutch. Some 415 customers were interviewed for the survey. The results of these interviews were combined with police records covering around 1,175 controls. (picture VRT) Terneuzen Police records show a small fraction of the clientele to be Dutch; only 6%. Direct interviewing of customers pushed that figure up to 12%. Tim Surmont from Ghent University puts this discrepancy down to the fact that many local customers come on foot or by bike and are therefore less likely to come up against police controls. According to Surmont, the average age of the clientele is 27, despite the fact that local police generally target 24 year olds. The results of the survey also suggest that most customers are in employment. Around 50% of customers visit the "coffee" shops weekly. Trade really picks up from 6pm onwards during the week, and is steady at the weekend. Terneuzen is the only municipality in the Dutch region south of the Schelde river. Only two premises are allowed to sell soft drugs, following a clampdown on the illegal trade. Call for international policy Product quality is, according to those interviewed, the main reason for their visit. Recent police controls have given hope to local residents. 1 in 5 interviewed said that they have altered their route since the police have stepped up their action. Professor Brice De Ruyver from Ghent University insists that international agreements must be made with regard to drug tourism. The fact that so few customers are Dutch, is a clear signal for Professor De Ruyver that addressing the issue on a National level has little point, especially in the case of legalised drug outlets in border areas. The provinces East and West Flanders (B) are to meet with their neighbours Zeeland (NL) and provinces in the north of France to work out a way to best coordinate their policies.