Text: Žikica Milošević
Maybe because I am from Vojvodina, I could never imagine my life somewhere out of the flat fields.Some people may argue that the mountainous landscapes are superior, but flat Northern fields, calm rivers and canals and historical cities full of vibrant people, as well as sandy long beaches promise a flavour of true pleasure, which is what the Netherlands offer!
Hence, the Dutch tourism is a giant. No wonder that about 10.8 million foreign guests visited the Netherlands in 2010, according to Netherlands Statistics (CBS). In addition, Dutch people spent nights 17.7 million times in hotels, pensions, holiday homes and campsites in their own country. Most foreign tourists come from Germany, followed by Great Britain, Belgium and the United States. In 2014 the Netherlands was visited by 13.9 million foreign tourists, with nearly 4 million coming from Germany. In 2012, the Dutch tourism industry contributed 5.4% in total to the country’s GDP and 9.6% in total to its employment. Foreign tourists stay mainly in Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland, while Dutch people prefer Gelderland and Limburg. Since they are landlocked, and far away from the central cities like Amsterdam, it is quite logical.
Many foreign tourists, of course, visit Amsterdam first, if not only. The city is popular for the coffee shops area De Wallen, especially if it is something strange or even forbidden in your country or culture. Daily boating boats run through the canal belt in the historic city centre offering the visitors the unique glimpse over the legendary facades and cyclists. The Museum Square hosts the famous Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Concertgebouw. Other Amsterdam tourist attractions include the Flower Market and Artis Zoo. The second most popular city, heavily bombed Rotterdam is famous for its large port and architecture, so the city skyline is famous and there are special buildings such as the cube houses, Rotterdam and the Markthal. The Rotterdamers did the only thing possible – they reinvented their city from scrathes! The other major cities like The Hague and Utrecht are also famous for their architecture.
However, the Netherlands has more to offer, such as the North Sea coast and the Wadden Islands with long beaches and dune areas and the IJsselmeer with an excellent opportunity for sailing yachts, and with picturesque cities such as Harderwijk and Elburg. In the north and middle of Gelderland lies the Veluwe, the largest forest in the Netherlands. So, you can even go for a summer holidays in the Netherlands! In the times where it was the only accessible option for everyone, they were blooming, and now they are simply enchantingly exotic!
Maastricht, a city with a distinct atmosphere, is a popular destination for Dutch tourists but also for many visiting Aachen, Luxembourg or Liege, a popular day trip destination. You can get lost in many of the Dutch cities among their red brick facades, a unique atmosphere which is a combination of gloomy and cheerful and the open-spirited Dutch. Relax, sit back and enjoy the Dutch beer, hospitality, and the atmosphere.
So, all in all, flat is not necessarily boring and drab. The grey sky does not imply grey soul. It is all in you. Life is what you make it, and the Dutch have made it, so they can make it for you too!