Tourist Tuesdays – Dutch Hit Back, 12/4/18

“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’

11 thoughts on “Tourist Tuesdays – Dutch Hit Back, 12/4/18

  1. Over tourism seems to be a huge problem all over the world, and only a few locales have even begun to get a handle on it. No easy solutions, especially not for Big Sur.

  2. Seems to me that tour operators and travel agents are in the best position to create the awareness to effect the necessary change of behavior at tourist attractions. Perhaps focus should be placed on them.

  3. Nice article. I can’t decide if it’s any consolation to learn that we’re not the only ones being run over by swarms of tourists, or not. O_o

  4. years ago I tried contacting the various motorhome rental companies about having even a moments training or at least a one-page handout to all their clients with some simple tips about using the motorhome responsibly ( such as : dear client, you are on holiday, please remember that others may not be and use pullouts accordingly etc etc ). was met with disdain and dismissal of the issue by corporate.

    which leads to the fact that the legal structure of Publicly help corporations ( like tour operators and most corporate travel agents ) in America mandates that first and foremost they are obliged to maximize shareholder return on investment, period. couple that with 75%+ of stocks are owned by <5% of people and golly, looks like they don't mind and we don't matter compared to shareholders.

    oh, and now corporations are people, with more money than 'we the people' so who do politicians serve….

    doesn't mean the struggle should not be engaged, just be clear it's uphill and who is on whose side.

  5. Amen, Richard. I think nagging contact and public shaming might go a long way towards getting the attention this global problem deserves. Think plastic bags and straws.

  6. Several years ago I was part of a tour group in Israel. At the baptism site on the Jordan River, our tour director was heard to grumble, “I’m sick of being a photo op for Chinese tourists.” What was intended to be a sacred moment for the participants was nearly overrun by outsiders who seemed to be clue-free as to what was happening, and had no qualms about intruding into someone else’s celebration. Their tour guide at the very least should have explained things to them before they even got off their bus. Worse yet, perhaps it WAS explained to them, and they ignored it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.