A milestone; after many days of data collection in the Amstelland-Meerlanden region, today we’re heading to the last municipality on our research agenda. Our final day of handing out questionnaires and observation.
Today’s destination: the municipality of De Ronde Venen. Since this time we went by car it felt differently than our previous journeys – not the usual touristy feeling when arriving at the train station and making your way to the city centre.
As the car gave us much more freedom to move around, we decided to first visit and start our data collection in Mijdrecht, the biggest city in De Ronde Venen. We soon realised though that, as expected, this was not the most frequently visited spot by tourists. After having collected two questionnaires we headed to Vinkeveen as we heard that people go to see the small town that is located next to the water and therefore offers multiple watersport activities.
As it was our first time visiting Vinkeveen we had quite a hard time getting around and finding our way- it was a real challenge for instance to find the library and we walked past it without noticing it… twice. Compared to the other destinations, the inhabitants we met were not very helpful with giving directions and at first we went to the wrong end of the city. Walking back and talking to other people we realised though that apparently there are a lot of tourists in town, even international ones, especially from Germany but also from countries more far away like China and Japan.
The town itself does not have much to offer. But its proximity to the water offers tourists direct access to a diverse range of watersport activities such as canoeing, sailing, wake boarding and others. Other attractions are practically non-existent; the library was closed (on Thursday?!) and even restaurants and cafes were difficult to find. This is why we were all surprised that in spite of all that Vinkeveen seems to be a tourism hotspot, especially during summer. Around the city one could find maps with information on walking routes as well as a tourist information, an indicator of infrastructure for visitors to the town.
Being a tad disappointed by Vinkeveen, it was interesting to hear from locals that tourists seem to enjoy the town, coming back even to revisit it. In my opinion, one can only explain this with the opportunities tourists have for activities on the water. Everyone we interviewed was very much pleased by tourism and wished that even more tourists would find their way to Vinkeveen, arguing mostly with the feeling of ‘gezelligheid’ it brings to their town but also positive economic impacts that tourism brings.
Since this was the last day of our data collection I need to add that we had a great time doing our research and that we were able to learn a lot and discover many new things. We are grateful for the experience we were offered with this project and now look forward to do the interviews with the policy makers and start writing our report.
Written by: Larissa