THE HAGUE – Dutch horticulturists are fed up with tourists trampling on their rows of brightly colored tulips for the sake of a selfie, but travelers continue to break into the flower fields despite the warning signs and hoards of volunteers working to put an end to the wreckage.
Thousands of foreigners flock to Holland in the months of March, April and May to take in the vast expanses of brightly hued tulips that throughout the Spring create breathtaking landscapes.
But the disregard for the blooms could cause a loss of some 100,000 euros to each bulb grower.
“Of course, we are pleased with the attention and the visits, it gives us a lot of publicity, but they must respect our efforts so that we can all enjoy the results,” Simon Pennings, Bollenstreek tulip producer in western Holland told EFE.
Pennings has reached his limit on this matter and this year launched a national campaign by placing signs in English and Chinese by the tulip fields that demands tourists respect their industry.
Signs read: “Enjoy the flowers, respect our pride,” or “Please do not enter the flower fields.”
The Keukenhof flower garden, also known as the Garden of Europe, spans some 32 hectares and sees roughly 7 million bulbs planted annually.
The garden spans the localities of Hillegom and Lisse and is a short half hour away from Amsterdam, the tourist mecca of Holland.
Signs are placed in the entry points to each field and the initiative has been backed by local organizations and Flower Science – a national network of bulb growers.
But Penning is of the opinion that the behavior of tourists is worse year on year, and at times, he said, there are up to 300 people walking through any given field.
The tulip season, which lasts around 8 weeks, sees 1,300 seasonal workers take to the blooming fields to tend to the bulbs.
The Flower Science organization has made a call for volunteer ambassadors to help protect the sector.
“The reason for looking for ambassadors is a cry for help from the bulb sector to protect the flowers from overly enthusiastic visitors,” a statement said.
“Tourists are received in a hospitable manner, can receive information and are referred to locations where photographs can be taken. In this way, an attempt is made to prevent tourists from roaming freely through the fields,” the organization added.
Pennings told EFE that damaged tulip leaves gravely affect the development of the bulbs in some crops, and the mistreatment of flowers can contribute towards the propagation of plant diseases.
In order to avoid this, the Keukenhof flower garden has earmarked a field for selfie-enthusiasts keen to jazz up their social media feeds with pictures of the beautiful fields.
“We want everyone to enjoy the flowers but we don’t want to take the decision to block access and erect fences,” Penning said.
For the time being Dutch bulb growers have resorted to warning signings in the hope that the crowds of tourists respect the crops.