Usually, having hordes of tourists visit your shores is a good thing.
After all, without all that foreign money, many businesses in and around Cape Town would be doomed.
Sometimes, though, tourism can actually wreck a place. We’ve seen it before with Venice, and now the good folk of the Netherlands are struggling to control an influx that is threatening their way of life.
The influx is so bad that the country’s tourism board is taking action, reports the Guardian:
Now, with as many as 42 million people forecast to visit the country annually by 2030, up from 18 million in 2018, the Netherlands tourist board has had enough.
In a major shift, the board is moving its focus from promoting the country as a tourist destination to trying to manage the huge numbers coming in by plane, train and automobile.
A country of 17 million people can have too much of a good thing, it is suggested.
“We say that ‘more’ is not always better, certainly not everywhere,” a tourist board policy document states. “To be able to control visitor flows, we must take action now. Instead of destination promotion it’s time for destination management.”
The tourism board is even telling certain areas of the country to actively discourage tourists from visiting, by either closing down popular attractions or imposing a ‘tourist tax’.
In certain smaller towns especially, the quality of life is being threatened:
“Some cities and regions are very busy – cities such as Amsterdam or areas such as Giethoorn [below], a small village with a lot of windmills and farmers – and there are a lot of Chinese tourists that are very interested in that village,” the spokeswoman said…
Giethoorn, a village of 2,500 people that is usually explored by boat through its network of small canals, is visited by an estimated 350,000 Chinese tourists every year.
I’m not sure it matters which country the 350 000 tourists come from, but that number is going to drastically change what it means to live in that particular town.
Those who have visited Amsterdam of late may have noted that the city has removed the famous ‘Iamsterdam’ sculpture. You know, this one:
The city, which attracts more than 17 million visitors annually, is looking to ease the stress on the city centre, going as far as to halt the growth of hotels, souvenir shops and cheese shops.
Sheesh, leave cheese out of this, you monsters.
Whilst tourism is estimated to earn the Dutch economy as much as €82 billion (R1,3 trillion), that comes at a great environmental cost:
The tourist board in the bulb region of the Netherlands has had to start fencing in fields of tulips due to damage created by the scourge of selfie-seeking tourists.
The Dutch government’s ability to keep to its climate change pledges if the rate of growth in numbers continues is also in doubt.
Should 42 million people visit in 2030, the target of reducing CO2 emissions by 49% in 2030 compared with 2017 would likely not be met, the tourist board has warned.
“In addition to emissions, the growing number of visitors also ensures more consumption, possible food waste and pollution by (stray) waste,” the board’s document says. “Moreover, crowded destinations leads to harm to nature.”
Must be nice to have a government that is proactive about combatting climate change. Sadly, we cannot say the same.
If you do plan on visiting the Netherlands any time soon, try and show some respect to the locals.
Oh, and stay out of their bike lanes, because those things are wild.
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