Imagine you are working for the Tourist Board of the country you happen to be living in. Now imagine you are told to build a website for tourists (both foreign and domestic) to allow them to explore the wonders of the country whose beauty you’ve been hired to promote. Now imagine that you build said website, but limit it to ONLY the language of the country you’re promoting. Sounds stupid? Sounds like only a dumbass would do such a thing? Well guess what….such a thing exists!
Yes indeed folks, those crazshy Dutchies have their national tourist agency’s website up and running for many years and YES, it’s ONLY in Dutch. I didn’t believe it myself when I first discovered it. I even tried logging in via a VPN connection, thinking that if they thought I was in America, maybe I could find an English version of their website. However, it was not to be. When I pointed this out to my Dutch colleagues, they looked at me like I had just spent the morning in a coffee-shop. They wouldn’t believe me until they saw it for themselves. And even THEY thought this was stupid.
And the problem doesn’t stop there. Nope. If you start to delve deeper, you’ll find that more often than not, the websites of some of the tourist attractions themselves are only in Dutch. Whilst many of these are not managed or run by the tourist agency (known as the VVV), but by the management of the attractions themselves, you would think that the marketing boffins in the VVV would have advised these people to have their websites translated into at least English, and possibly German and French too. For example, Herself and myself thought about visiting a few old castles in the middle of the country. Every website we visited was in Dutch. For example, Ammersoyen castle, Amerongen castle, Duurstede castle and Sypesteyn castle all have websites, and all are ONLY in Dutch. And the list goes on and on.
I know that the rhetoric towards foreigners across the Netherlands has changed immensely over the last five years. It used to be that foreigners were made to feel welcome in the Netherlands, just as long as they were working and paying their taxes. That has since changed. Gone are the days when only the Turkish and Moroccans got a hard time from Jan and Rita in the street. Now it’s evolved into a contemptuous dislike of all foreigners living and working here….ESPECIALLY Eastern Europeans.
For whatever reason, Jan Hollander thinks that, for example, all the farm labour jobs, that the Dutch don’t want to do ANYWAY, should least of all be done by the Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian men and women. They also get into a tizzy when they find out that you’ve gone and hired a Polish builder over a more expensive, lazy and slower Dutch builder. They give you so much stick about not hiring a Dutch contractor, and giving away jobs to non-Dutch. In the end however, they are priced out of their own market, and thus want to ring-fence and protect their market from outside influences, even if it means that vegetables never get picked because lazy Dutch kids view it as beneath them, and your stuff never gets repaired, or if it does, it costs the Earth whenever a Dutchman comes to do the work. That conceited pretentiousness that the Dutch wilfully express towards foreigners LIVING here, now seems to have found its way to the foreigners just VISITING here.
Or has it? At least, so far, the websites of the larger metropolitan tourist destinations – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague – seem to have at least one, sometimes multiple, language versions of their websites. So maybe this foaming of the mouth at the site of Johnny foreigner is limited only to the countryside.
Now, where did I put my map?