May 9, 2013

Amsterdam, the city that knows no boundaries

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:46 am

There’s a new trend that has been brewing in Amsterdam when it comes to branding the city to tourists, and that’s making tourist attractions that are not actually in Amsterdam part of the city when it is convenient to do so (*cash register sounds*).

The cities of IJmuiden, Bloemendaal and Zandvoort on the coast are now just ‘Amsterdam Beach’, although they are closer to the bigger city of Haarlem, which is sometimes casually annexed to what is now being referred to as ‘The Greater Amsterdam Area’ by city marketing people. Schiphol Airport has been called Amsterdam Airport for ages although it is not in Amsterdam and the ‘Bulb Region’ again closer to Haarlem is the ‘Amsterdam Flower Strip’. Oddly enough, the most ‘bulbous’ region of the country is actually north of there, but that’s just inconvenient.

The lovely castle of Muiderslot 15 kilometres from Amsterdam is being sold to tourists as ‘Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot’. The number of foreign visitors doubled in 2012 from 10,000 to 20,000 (*cash register sounds*).

Although Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, it’s never really marketed as such, probably because the Dutch refer to Amsterdam as that big city over there and not as ‘the nation’s capital’. However, this absorbing of non Amsterdam attractions makes many an Amsterdam resident uncomfortable. What gives Amsterdam the right to poach tourist attractions? Money? I mean Schiphol, OK, it’s tough to pronounce, but the beaches 20 kilometres away? That’s overstretching boundaries.

According to Amsterdam FM radio, Amsterdam presents itself abroad as being a city that is much bigger than its actual municipal boundaries. If the locals of other cities don’t mind the poaching and enjoy the money like Muiderslot does, then fine, Amsterdam just got that much bigger (*cash register sounds*).

While us mortals in Amsterdam still have to use normal city limits, we are all the dupe of some city marketing we can’t believe in ourselves because we know it’s not Amsterdam. Why are the 1.5 million tourists that come to Amsterdam every year being treated like morons? It almost looks to me as if we are ashamed of quaint villages like Zaandam with its famous windmills and its having housed Russian Tsar Peter the Great for a week. And will this branding go so far as to make the city of Utrecht 30 min away by train a suburb of Amsterdam? Don’t laugh, that’s where this megalomaniac trend is headed.

To quote any good Dutch person talking to tourists and expats: Amsterdam isn’t the Netherlands. Hell, Amsterdam is not even itself anymore.

(Link:, Photo of Muiderslot Castle by Coanri/Rita, some rights reserved)

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