Empty map dispensers, informational signs only written in Dutch and staff with limited English skills are among the inconveniences for some foreign guests in Leeuwarden.
Translation by Traci White
In a report for Omrop Fryslân, German journalism student Caroline Reithmuller paid a visit to the city of Leeuwarden to test how just tourist-friendly the Capital of Culture actually is.
Reithmuller bought her train ticket to the city in Germany, but the ticket was not recognised by the scanners on the platform at the station. The scanners are operated by Dutch national rail line NS and regional provider Arriva, which are not connected to the organisers of the Capital of Culture year, but given the number of tourists expected to come to the city over the course of 2018, the technical issues could pose a considerable problem.
Omrop Fryslân reports that other foreign visitors have encountered the same issue: attendees of an international conference last week struggled to make it past the scanners, and some visitors were unable to use their foreign bank cards in the station. Reithmuller was eventually able to make it through by scanning a QR code at the bottom of her ticket.
Outside the station, Reithmuller encountered empty map dispensers, signs displaying information like opening times without an English translation, and employees at the welcome centre who spoke limited English and gave her the wrong information about where she could rent a bike.
The organisers of the Capital of Culture year responded to Reithmuller’s report by pointing out that much of the information in brochures and magazines promoting the year’s various activities are available in up to four languages: Dutch, Frisian, German and English.
The LF2018 staff also stated that although they can give recommendations to local businesses and affiliates about making information available in English, including the tourism office, they cannot force them to make any changes.