Celebrating its own bizarre fifth year anniversary this year, the ‘mistaken tourists’ (‘vergistoeristen’, in Dutch, a contender for the best word of the year 2018 in my view), are people who still show up in Amsterdam on 30 April on what used to be Queen’s Day, The Netherlands’ national holiday, dressed in orange garb and wondering where the party is.
In 2014 Queen’s Day was renamed King’s Day and moved to King Willem-Alexander’s actual birthday, 27 April, except if that day falls on a Sunday, then it’s on 26 April. The culprits seems to be outdated guide books and sites, holding on tight to Queen’s Day on 30 April and in doing so, pissing off a lot of tourists and giving us a chance to admire their editorial skills.
However, why would tourists and even websites have any reason to think a national holiday has moved back three days and can move around a bit more if 27 April falls on a Sunday? I wonder how many more years this will last, although I wonder if we’ll make it to a tenth year anniversary. Maybe then we should actually throw a party for the tourists.
Tags: King's Day, Queen's Day, tourism, tourists
A few years ago, wheeled suitcases (‘rolkoffers’) became synonymous with ‘tourists’ or ‘damn, there’s an Airbnb next to my house’ for a lot of residents. The problem is the sound the wheels make on Amsterdam’s cobblestone streets and sidewalks, which apparently bothers folks in one fancy part of town.
Amsterdam’s current population is about 820,000, in a city that gets – wait for it – 15 million visitors a year. Quiz your friends about how many tourists they think Amsterdam gets every year and they’ll say a few million. By the way, the number keeps going up every year.
Residents in and around the Bickersgracht, a canal very close to Amsterdam Central Station where tourists stay have made two makeshifts signs ‘forbidding’ wheeled suitcases. We get it, you don’t like the sound of all those suitcases early in the morning heading out, but that’s not going to do shit about it.
One local man feels music should come out of the wheels to mask the sound of what actually is the fault of the cobblestone street area of town they live in rather than the suitcases. A rational suggestion from a local woman would be to indicate which hours in the day the locals don’t want to hear the rolling wheels and put that on the sign, but then this would mean you would need to enforce and then it all sounds futile again.
You’ll notice the picture taken here of what is probably a Dutch person going somewhere is on a smooth bike path that sounds way better than on cobblestone. How do other parts of the world tackle this problem? A quick Google search says that in 2014 Venice, a city that gets 22 million tourists a year, tried to ban wheeled suitcase with a fine of 500 euro (mamma mia!) but ended up not going through with it.
(Links: www.rtvnh.nl, www.amsterdam.info, edition.cnn.com, Photo: crop of a frame of a video called ‘What defines Dutch cycling?’ by Mark Wagenbuur)
Tags: Amsterdam, noise pollution, suitcases, tourism, tourists
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: www.amsterdamfm.nl, Photo of Muiderslot Castle by Coanri/Rita, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, brand, branding, Haarlem, tourism, tourists, Utrecht, Zaandam