Reinvent Tourism festival suggests positive new future for travel

An initiative to make the red light district ‘liveable’ again Photo:

An online festival is encouraging travellers, hoteliers and residents in popular destinations to ‘reinvent tourism.’

The festival, which runs from May 23rd to June 2nd, includes virtual experiences such as tours of people’s curio collections or walks through their local area, debates and brainstorming sessions.

It has been organised by Amsterdam’s ‘The Untourist Movement’ and has a focus on the problems of the city, but includes participants from Copenhagen, Suriname and families in Bali, Mexico, India, Indonesia and Kenya who want to ‘share a meal’ online.

Elena Simons, a social activist and one of the organisers, said the festival is an attempt to raise awareness and come up with ideas to make tourism more positive for everyone it affects.

‘We have been building a network since 2018 of organisations in and beyond tourism that have a vision to make it a force for good, and get tourists to engage in positive impact experiences,’ she said.

Ideas that have been generated so far include a ‘wish tree’ scheme for hotel lobbies where local post wishes and travellers can fulfil them – something apparently welcomed by Dutch hostel Stayokay and Denmark’s Globelhagen.

Next week, campaigners will also try to persuade Amsterdam’s head of economic affairs Victor Everhardt that visitors to the city should sign a temporary ‘citizenship contract’ giving them certain privileges in return for an agreement to behave appropriately.

The festival is part of a wider groundswell of opinion that tourism in Amsterdam could be managed differently in the future, after years of complaints around overcrowding and nuisance. Mayor Femke Halsema yesterday outlined her vision for reducing the inner city’s dependence on party tourism, warning that the city cannot handle as many visitors if social distancing is to be maintained. The head of marketing body amsterdam&partners Geerte Udo has also said the city only wants the ‘right’ tourists after the coronavirus.

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