The 2022 Floriade horticulture show in Almere flopped not because of the aftermath of coronavirus but because of bad planning, bad marketing and politicians who refused to heed the warning signs, a group of critics and whistleblowers have said in a final evaluation of the event.
The show, originally said to have cost around €100 million in reality cost more than double that amount, the group, made up of people who helped prepare the show and event organisers, claimed in the Parool.
Expectations about visitor mumbers were also wildly optimistic, with just 685,000 people coming through the gate instead of two million, and revenue totalling at most €36 million.
The report comes ahead of the council’s own figures which will be published at the end of March.
Former Floriade organiser and amusement park founder Hans van Driem, who is spokesman for the group, said the event’s organisers and Almere local council are ‘playing a shell game with the costs’, trying to blame Covid and a negative press.
‘It is scandalous the way politicians are trying to blame others and use Covid to get extra subsidies from the government and the province to cover the shortfall,’ he told the Parool.
The group said Covid had been ‘a gift’ for organisers who could blame their own failings on the pandemic. But, the group said, when the show opened on April 13 2022, Covid restrictions had been lifted and foreign and national visitor numbers had practically returned to pre pandemic levels.
Van Driem said ‘years of overconfidence, financial mismangement, organisational chaos and marketing and design blunders’ are the real reasons the event flopped despite numerous warnings from critics on the way.
Successive Almere mayors and officials ‘deliberately kept the real figures under wraps’, Van Driem claimed. In the summer of 2022 the complete city board were forced to resign over the matter.
The Floriade organisers and umbrella horticulture organisation Nederlandse Tuinbouwraad have said the Floriade is still relevant but Van Driem does not agree. ‘‘It worked well until the 1990s but it has been sidelined by technology. People have so much to amuse themselves with now,’ he told the paper.
‘We have to stop the Floriade now to prevent some gullible council from taking it on in 2032. There are better things we can do with the money, such as youth care and building houses’, he said.
Almere council did not want to comment on the evaluation ahead of their own report on the event’s final costs.
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