In a New York Times article on the Dutch tourism board’s decision to stop promoting Amsterdam due to massive tourism numbers, the board says they are planning to shift focus to areas like Groningen instead.
The article was in response to a recent policy change for the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC): their promotional campaign for Amsterdam in recent years has become a victim of its own success, with tourism numbers expected to continue increasing up to 29 million by the year 2030.
In The New York Times, Elsje van Vuuren, a spokesperson for NBTC, mentioned the province of Zeeland and the city of Groningen as “relatively overlooked” destinations that the board is considering promoting more actively to spread out the number of tourists coming to the Netherlands.
De Telegraaf reports that the tourism board is planning to start implementing the wider national focus between 2020 and 2024. The NBTC issued a study into the projected tourism numbers in the years to come and found that the entire Netherlands could see as many as 42 million visitors across the country by 2030.
The persistent NBTC campaigns promoting Amsterdam as a tourist destination have resulted in rapidly growing numbers of international visitors, many of whom come to the city to party. The city of Amsterdam itself has recently begun taking matters into its own hands to try and manage the massive crowds paying the city a visit, such as floating a partial alcohol ban on boats in the canals and bans on tours of the red light district.
Even the perennially popular Keukenhof gardens, which are close to Amsterdam, have been bursting at the seam: during the peak of tulip season in April, Omroep Flevoland reports that traffic had to be rerouted and traffic cops were brought in to keep the peace. The park itself has issued warnings to visitors to respect the flower fields.
The problem is two-fold. One is that Groningen isn’t relatively overlooked anymore – it was featured in a lot of “new” top travel destinations last year in publications such as The Guardian and FOX. We’re a small city and we keep getting more crowded. I personally wouldn’t mind even more people but it’s not like we’re currently trying to lure even more people here.
Secondly, Amsterdam wants to shift tourism masses here but the Dutch government won’t invest in infrastructure – for a long time, the HSL, a high speed train connection, was planned between Groningen and Amsterdam. They decided not to pursue it. If the Dutch government (which I recognize is not quite the same thing as the municipality of Amsterdam) wants to offload people to the north, they should also invest in ways to keep that flow going.