Tulip Day Tours: Sustainable Escape from Mass Tourism (Interview)

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Today, our #ExperienceOfTheWeek series is back with the interview from Marloes, the founder of Tulip Day Tours. How not to miss out on many Dutch festivities, unknown spots, secret gems and do all of this in a more sustainable way – that and even more in our today’s interview with lovely Marloes. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Q1: Hi Marloes, how are you doing?

Hi Ivana! Thank you so much for your invitation to this interview. Despite the Corona crisis, I’m doing great! Behind the scenes, I have been working on a new website for our experiences and we have been honored with two awards in the last year so I honestly can’t complain!

Q2: Tell us more about the story of Tulip Day Tours. How did it all start? 

Travelling and tourism have always played a big role in my life. Already as a child, I kept walking away from home simply to explore what’s around me. When I finished high school I studied tourism and hotel management and it always stayed with me. When I was studying cultural anthropology and did an internship at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I was given the tourism portfolio.

 

I have traveled a lot and have been working as a cruise director on river ships in Europe for the last six years. As a cruise director, when you’re back home, you have a lot of free time. So two years ago I decided to do something with my spare time and passion so I set up Tulip Day Tours, a small-scale, off-the-beaten-path tour operator. 

Q3: Apart from flower tours that you’re famous for, do you also do other authentic day tours focused on other Dutch specialties?

Absolutely! Frankly, that’s even our specialty. We visit local festivities, farms where no other tour operators go, kayak in National Parks that even some Dutchies have never heard of, visit the Dutch islands. We try to offer authenticity and sustainability as much as we can. Therefore our groups are never larger than six travelers. 

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Q4: The Netherlands is a stunning country and I bet there are dozens of things to show to fellow travelers. How many guides do you have in your team? Are you all locals?

Yes, we only work with local guides, or at least guides who have been living in the Netherlands for at least the last seven years. As an anthropologist I believe it takes time to fully understand a culture and we want to show our culture to our travellers. In general, we are together with a team of four local guides but this fluctuates depending on the season.

Q5: You focus a lot on sustainability, what are the most significant aspects of your tours that support sustainable traveling.

We try to escape mass tourism as much as possible, so that we don’t overrun small villages. Instead we try to contribute. To give an example; there are a lot of very popular and famous tulip farms in the Netherlands that receive big groups of travellers. We instead visit the small farms that no-one knows of. This way we can truly show our culture, but this way we also contribute to small family businesses. 

 

Another aspect that deals directly with the environment is that we for example don’t serve water in plastic bottles but only in cartons with paper cups. We believe that all the little bits help.

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Q6: Today many people travel and plan their itineraries on their own. Why would you recommend booking one of your experiences to our travelers?

With Tulip Day Tours it’s like a local friend showing our travelers the Netherlands. We are very selective with local guides; not only must they be informative and knowledgeable, but they also need to feel and connect with our travelers. We don’t shy away from any topic as we want to show our travelers the real Netherlands. Ask us anything and you will receive an honest answer placed in different contexts. We cover history in our experiences, but connect them to our society nowadays and how it has been impacting our culture.

Q7: The travel industry is in uncharted waters right now but you have responded to the recent events as true professionals. Can you tell us more about your corona-proof tours? 

When the coronavirus broke out we immediately cancelled all our experiences. We have placed screens in our vehicles and reduced the maximum group sizes. For private experiences, it’s still six travelers (one household) or four travelers in case of two households. For our public experiences departing from Amsterdam, we have reduced the group sizes to a maximum of four travelers for as long as needed. But our corona product goes further than the recommendations and regulations of our government; e.g. we have implemented temperature checks. Our travellers must use the provided antibacterial hand gel before boarding our vehicle and wear a face mask where needed. 

 

All our travelers have either received their money back or have rebooked their experiences to the upcoming years. We don’t work with vouchers; with Tulip Day Tours our travellers always receive their money back. As travelers ourselves we know how annoying it can be that if you make travel plans and you can’t go ahead with them, that you don’t receive your money back but a voucher instead. 

Q8: Last but not least, what is your favorite spot in Amsterdam that you’d take your friends to see or experience? Tips from a true local are always worth it 🙂

My personal favourite spot is PLLEK, right across the water from Amsterdam Central Station. They serve delicious local food and there’s an easy-going atmosphere.  In summer time you can take a swim in the water but also watch a movie outside on a big screen. You can take a free ferry to get there. It’s not really known among non-residents but it’s a great place to meet up with friends and colleagues.  

 

On a cultural level I’d suggest visiting the Beguinage, in the city centre of Amsterdam. You need to look for a ‘secret’ door, but once you’ve found it it’s like you’re in an oasis. Keep in mind that there are rules to follow with respect to the people living there!

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