The bulb that bites: Flores Touristia campaign warns flower field visitors

Image: Visit Netherlands, NBTC
The Dutch tourist board has launched a video warning tourists planning to trample the flower fields for a perfect Instagram shot that a new bulb might bite back.

‘The Netherlands are world famous for their flowers and we welcome millions of tourists every year,’ says a Prof Erik Kummeling from a National Institute for Floricultural Science and Research, in the video. ‘But unfortunately as many tourists step into the flower fields for the perfect picture, the flowers and bulbs get destroyed. We develop high-quality flower species that are stronger and more resistent to this new natural enemy: humans.’

The video – launched on April 1 – claims the Dutch have cross bred famous Dutch flowers with the rubber tree from Brazil, known for its flexibility, the mangrove from the Philippines for extremely strong roots, Stinkhorn fungi, releasing a ‘sharp and terrible smell’ when threatened, and ‘the famous flesh eating plant’ to create the human-proof Flores Touristia. So, it warns: ‘enjoy our flowers but keep your distance: they bite!’


April blooms

The video, admits Simone Sagi of Holland Marketing, is an April fool’s joke, but one with a serious message. ‘It’s to shine a light on responsible and sustainable tourism,’ she told Dutch News.

‘Of course, the tulip fields are a real spectacle and so inviting, but please be mindful that this is somebody’s business. Don’t go into the fields, because you could damage the tulips or take in diseases that affect the bulbs and someone’s livelihood.

‘There are now places where you can pick your own flowers, there are designated spots for selfies among the blooms, as well as less-known areas in Flevoland rather than the municipality of Lisse, near the famous Keukenhof flower gardens.’

The board has been warning about damage to bulbs since 2019, when one cultivator produced banners urging tourists to watch their step. In 2020, the mayor of Hillegom, at the heart of the bulb-growing area, urged people to avoid visiting after roads had to be closed.

By last year, the Dutch bulb growers association was warning people to keep out of the fields, citing the risks of spreading viruses from one plant to others. The financial impact of the damage caused and number of tourists trampling flowers have not been quantified, although more than a million people visited the Keukenhof last year.


However, the April fool’s video is a lighthearted attempt to drive home a message. ‘Everything associated with TikTok and Instagram is a phenomenon across the world, and every year we do see pictures of the flower fields and people are attracted as they do make a beautiful backdrop,’ added Sagi.

‘If you can make something humorous, you are more likely to get your message across. There is something scientific happening here in terms of disease. Imagine if there really could be an unbreakable tulip! But. actually. tulips are really fragile.’

The plea for people to mind their manners (and the flowers) is aimed at tourists from around the world, and takes a rather different tone from a doom-laden campaign by Amsterdam municipality this week telling rowdy young men from Britain to ‘stay away’.

An alternative version created by comic Arjen Lubach said it would be fairer to spell it out that tourists intending to create ‘troubles’ should ‘typhus off’.

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