“Nineteen windmills occupy the village of Kinderdijk near Rotterdam. A quintessential structure of Dutch iconography, this is one of the most photographed destinations in the Netherlands.
Filing out into the misty rain, the tourists pop open their scarlet umbrellas expectantly and a tour guide brandishes a red marker sign in the drizzle, explaining the significance of this unique Unesco-recognised site.
Constituting a masterpiece in water management, the mills once drained the water from the land, preventing flooding since around 1740.
But this is not a museum, the mills are full of life.”…
“I have many, many bad experiences with the tourists,” says Johan Velthuizen, a 56-year-old robot programmer. He’s lived in Kinderdijk his whole life and runs the “liveability” local action group that’s been petitioning the mayor to better manage the mass tourism.
“They run through my garden with their whole families. We’re sitting drinking tea in the sunshine, then we look up and there’s a Chinese family trampling through my flowers.”
“I produce some coffee mugs and coasters for a hobby,” Mr Velthuizen complains. “But the tourists are just coming to take photos not to spend anything; they get all their food on the cruise ships.”
For all his frustration, he disagrees with a recent initiative by local millers to hand out postcards to tourists that suggest their presence is part of the problem. The postcards convey a a simple message:
We’ve lived here for centuries. We get 600,000 tourists a year and there are 60 of us. Ratio 10,000:1 #overtourism”
Although intended to be posted to friends to ward off other potential visitors, the postcards are perhaps more likely they will be kept as souvenirs.
Local miller and Instagram enthusiast Peter Paul Klapwijk makes the point: “It’s a world heritage site, not Disneyland. And it should be treated as such.”
And yet, it costs €20,000 (£17,000; $23,000) a year to keep a mill turning so the tourism income that comes from the Kinderdijk heritage foundation that runs the site is a vital source of funding.
“We are part of the heritage,” says Mr Klapwijk. “We don’t hate tourists but the heritage foundation treats us like the goose that laid the golden egg.”
For the rest of the article, see: ‘Not Disneyland’: Dutch hit back at ‘over-tourism’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-46194330