Inholland Makes The City: Fair Tourism
Amsterdam is grappling with the repercussions of mass tourism. In fact, the city is suffering from a 'tourism surplus', with large numbers of tourists causing annoyance to local residents. Inholland University of Applied Sciences, the North Amsterdam Tourism Industry Platform (TOP) and Pakhuis de Zwijger decided it was high time to exchange knowledge. The partners joined forces to organise the Fair Tourism Urban Conference during the WeMakeThe.City (WMTC) festival in Amsterdam.
Sustainable co-creation innovations from cities throughout Europe will be presented at the Fair Tourism conference in the afternoon of Tuesday 18 June. The event will explore Amsterdam – and, more specifically, Amsterdam-Noord – from an international perspective. Amsterdam will need all its stakeholders to take responsibility and develop more inclusive and sustainable forms of tourism. How can local businesses, local government agencies and residents work together to change the way tourists spend their time and money in the city?
The day's first keynote speaker Claudio Milano, lecturer and researcher at the Ostelea School of Tourism & Hospitality in Barcelona, sees the boundaries between tourists and local residents blurring: we are seeing the rise of digital nomadism, whereby new, temporary residents flow into our cities and countries.
Charles Landry, an author and international advisor on the future of cities, also makes reference to a nomadic world: a growing number of people are travelling the globe. Businesspeople, refugees, students, tourists. Our notions of space, location and time are in flux. For example, public spaces are increasingly multifunctional and can no longer be pigeon-holed in terms of design or image. As a case in point, he mentions a Berlin bank designed to look like a meditation centre. These days, we also tend to spend more time in the virtual world than the physical one.
Rather than focusing on the obvious problems of mass tourism, Landry takes a broader view: "How do we create meaningful encounters and relationships in a transforming world? What do we take from our environment, and what do we have to give in return?' Cities that currently hold less appeal to ambitious modern-day nomads can take fate into their own hands. 'Find your unique niches!' This will help ensure a more even distribution of travellers and residents. The two men both envisage a key role for governance. 'The political field isn't keeping pace with the changes around us", Landry explains.
The keynote speeches will be followed by contributions from Fairbnb and www.untouristguide.com, two initiatives that benefit the city and local economy. Ewout Versloot of Rotterdam and Partners will share his experiences with Rotterdam's new tourism policy, which is primarily focused around the city's needs and tourists' potential contribution to these goals. Various special projects have been established as a part of this strategy.
A home for creators
Everyone head for Amsterdam-Noord! Eva de Klerk of TOP Amsterdam-Noord explains: "We are a home to creators and many community-based initiatives. These ideas tend to attract various subcultures once they start to take shape." While she would also like to see new tourism policies, she feels these should be co-designed by the community. "We want a seat at the table in order to develop policies with municipal authorities, businesses and other stakeholders."
TOP assigned Inholland Tourism students to develop a profile of visitors to Amsterdam-Noord. As student Coen van der Meer explains, their research showed that visitors generally don't read up on Amsterdam-Noord before visiting. They basically come to see the IAMSTERDAM letters, A'DAM Tower and Eye museum, and have no idea about the other sights and activities. The students advised TOP to create a hotspot next to the Eye film museum, with features such as a large playground, fountain or arts centre.
Another group of students developed ‘IJamaze’, a platform that allows tourists and local residents to take part in joint activities. "Tourists get to experience an authentic part of Amsterdam-Noord, while local residents have a sense of ownership over the activities", explains student Kathleen Umbdenstov.
The conference ended with a panel debate on potential solutions to Amsterdam's tourist surplus: should we simply restrict tourism in certain areas? Perhaps we should make more efforts to involve residents in local activities? The issues prove difficult to resolve: plenty of room for further debate, in other words.
Inholland takes part in WeMakeThe.City
A highly diverse city
Third prize in design competition