Dutch authorities are pleading with selfie-taking tourists not to trample through beds of tulips.
It’s been tulip season in The Netherlands, and now the Dutch have become the latest in the world to plead with their selfie-taking guests not to trash the tourist sites by trampling, or in this case, even tiptoeing through the tulips.
According to the Dutch tourism board, the nation’s flower growers are losing hundreds of thousands of euros each year to the damage caused by visitors enchanted by the vast fields of flowers and immersing themselves in them. It’s just too tempting to take that photo from within the sea of color.
That’s an enormous problem in The Netherlands, where flower sales contribute €7 billion to the economy and account for at least five percent of GDP. It remains the world’s top exporter of flowers and bulbs, and is making strides in sustainability with growers who are members of the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative 2020 in neighboring Belgium.
“Of course, we are pleased with the attention and the visits, it gives us a lot of publicity, but they must respect our efforts so that we can all enjoy the results,” said Simon Pennings, a Bollenstreek tulip producer in western Holland, in an interview with Spain’s EFE news agency. The EFE reported that the tulip tourist trauma could cost each grower about €100,000 per year.
So it’s understandable that growers would be fed up with guests overstepping their boundaries, and Dutch tourism officials stepped in to make clear what the expectations are.
“The flower fields are on private land. Wading through the flowers may damage the flowers and bulbs or spread diseases to the flowers,” the board warned. “Surely you would not like people to walk into your back yard without asking every day.”
Instead, visitors are expected to use common sense and stay along the edge of the fields. “You can create the most wonderful photographs without walking into a field of flowers,” the board assures.
Just in case, the Flower Science organization in Holland launched a pilot ambassador program in April to assist rather than scold tourists, all while protecting the flowers. The group made banners available to growers in the Bollenstreek region so there is signage to warn about protecting the plants, while about 40 volunteers wearing special orange jackets went out into the fields on each weekend in April.
When they met tourists, they welcomed them and encouraged them to enjoy the beauty of the fields. Yet they also spoke about the growers and the business, the many different plants and their vibrant colors, and how hard the work of cultivation is. Most felt the effort linked to the national campaign was a success, and their guests learned something while protecting the floriculture.
The Flower Science ambassadors learned something surprising about their guests in turn. “The tourist thinks the fields have been laid out for them,” the group said. “They have no idea that the fields belong to growers nor do they know that the bulbs are underground and not the flowers above the ground.”