Sunday, 7 February 2016

Blog post 10 – Saying goodbye.

Hello everyone,

So, this is already the last blog post I will write regarding the level of sustainability tourism in Groningen.  In this post I want to try and come to a conclusion about how high the level of sustainability tourism is in Groningen by looking at all the places I discussed in the last couple of weeks.

My main objective for the blog was to discover sustainable Groningen. I did this by visiting four places that are all in some way related to the topic of sustainability, namely: WAAR, de Stadsakker, cultural cafe Kult and Onder de Linde.  What I can say about those places is that they are indeed sustainable but often lack the incentive to also target tourists that might have an interests in their products or activities. This could be improved by a better, more internationally oriented marketing strategy. E.g. to make websites available in English and provide flyers to the tourist information office.

Another objective was to see what tourist attractions do about sustainability that are much more focused on mass tourism. To discover this I discussed four other places, namely: the Groninger museum, the Martini Tower, de Prinsenhof and the Noorderplantsoen.  I have mixed feelings about how well sustainability is used at these places. On the one hand, de Prinsenhof, the Martini Tower  and the neighbourhood of the Noorderplantsoen are doing a good job regarding sustainability but on the other hand, the Groninger museum is lacking any sustainable policy.

To conclude, I think Groningen is on the right track when talking about the level of sustainability in the city, however, it is not yet that focused on tourists so improvements can be made.

I hope you liked this blog, I know I did when creating all of the posts! 

Blog post 9 - Playing dress up at 'Onder de Linde'

Hello everyone,

This time we are, once again, going on a shopping tour as this is actually one of the things I like to do very much in my spare time. The store I am going to write about today is ‘Onder de Linde’, a store that offers a selection of high quality-brand vintage clothing. The name is a variation of Unter der Linden, a street in Berlin, a city that is well-known for its vintage stores.  The store is located in the Steentilstraat  (combine it with a visit to Kult I suggest) and I pass it almost daily as it is on my way to the city centre.

Referring back to the previous post, when we discussed the Tourist Gaze of John Urry, I believe that this is also a very relevant concept for this blog post as this store stood out to me the first time I cycled throught the Steentilstraat due to the visual representation of the store front that is really unusual and attracts attention right away. Also every piece of clothing that is selected by the owner herself tells a story about the time period in which it was created in a visual way, this is what I especially like about vintage clothing as it is very hard to wear without feeling like you are dressing up for a theme party most of the time.

For tourists and locals, Onder de Linde is a lovely place to take a look around and admire the materials and designs of the clothing of the past. Next to clothing, Onder de Linde also sells furniture, from which I personally would want to buy almost every piece if I had the resources.

This was already the last venue in Groningen I wrote about, the next post will be a summary of my journey through Groningen.

Reference: Urry, J.(1990) The Tourist Gaze. London: SAGE publications

Blog post 8 – Gazing around at the Groninger museum

Hello everyone,

Today I want to discuss with you the concept of the Tourist Gaze, published by John Urry. In his work he proposes that tourists are looking for things that are different from the things they encounter in everyday life. Literally, they want to gaze upon new, unusual things.  As one of the main touristic attractions of the city of Groningen is the Groninger museum I wanted to apply this theory on this museum. Furthermore, the Groninger museum is currently home to the Bowie IS exhibition, about the rock star David Bowie.  Which in my opinion is a good example of what the Tourist Gaze is about.

As the Groninger museum is the only museum that can display this exhibition in the Netherlands and sadly David Bowie recently passed away, the exhibition is very popular at the moment. The Tourist Gaze places emphasis on how tourists are very visual and in the exhibition they are exposed to all kinds of unusual objects and colourful artefacts of David Bowie. Also the other exhibitions of the museum contain lots of paintings and artfacts that partially explain the history of the city, this is often more attractive for the average tourist than reading about the history of Groningen.

Once again, I am also dedicating a section of this post to the sustainability aspect of the tourist attraction. Unfortunately, I was not able to make use of the opportunity to speak with the director myself so I had to do some research on this part. Although I could not find anything on real sustainable initiatives, the Groninger museum contributes significantly to the local economy through spill-over effects from its visitors. So in fact this could be seen as something sustainable for the local society.

Reference: Urry, J.(1990) The Tourist Gaze. London: SAGE publications

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Blog post 7 - Local culture and food at Kult

Hello everyone,

In this blog post I want to focus on the relationship between the tourists and the locals of Groningen, also known as ‘stadjers’, and I want to do this by discussing the hosts and guests theory of Valene Smith. Smith focuses on the social, economic, cultural and ecological effects of the relationship between the tourists and the locals when they get into contact with each other. She concluded that often the local tourist economy is suffering from financial instability and do not see any profits as they are earned by big tourist corporations that have no connection with the region itself.  Keeping this in mind I was curious whether this would also be the case when I visited another sustainable place in Groningen.

This time I chose the restaurant Kult, a small and cosy restaurant located on the corner of the Steentilstraat. It is famous for the variety of cultural events it organizes, e.g. local art exhibitions, game nights, performances of bands and DJs. Furthermore, Kult is always cooking for a small group of people to ensure that there is no waste of food and the food that is produced is mostly organic and there is a large selection of vegetarian dishes.

In my opinion Kult is a perfect example of a touristic attraction that can contribute greatly to the local economy and is actually not in line with Smith’s conclusion about hosts and guests. A lot of local artists, performers and food producers benefit a lot because of the efforts of Kult and the tourists will get a different, in my opinion, more authentic experience of what Groningen has to offer than in a ‘normal’ restaurant.

Reference: Smith, V. (ed.) (1989). Hosts and Guests. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Blog post 6 - Creative with crops at 'de Stadsakker'

Hello everyone,

Today I will be writing about ‘de Stadsakker’, a store that is all about urban farming/agriculture.  Located in the Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat it is a must see for everyone interested in growing your own crops and plants on your balcony, terrace or garden in a biological way. Next to the store, de Stadsakker now has its very own piece of land where it grows seeds, herbs, crops and fruit to sell in the store.  For tourists and locals that are interested in eating healthy and sustainable, this is the place to be!

De Stadsakker is already a ‘famous’ concept  inside Groningen and is becoming more and more known outside Groningen as well. This is due to the fact that the Stadsakker is featured in lots of different media like magazines, blogs and even short television items. The circle of representation (Hall, 1973) is a good way of explaining the growing popularity of this store. Because a lot of people are hearing about this store and seeing images online or in magazines they want to see it for themselves and really get the full (tourist) experience. The tourists/visitors of the store then make pictures themselves to show to their relatives or to post on social media, spreading the concept of the Stadsakker even further. This is a really important push factor of the Stadsakker.

Furthermore, the location and the sight of the store are important pull factors for the tourist or traveller that is discovering Groningen with no knowledge of the Stadsakker as the location is in the city centre and the sight is really attractive and welcoming. De Stadsakker also maintains a website to inform people about the products they produce, this can also be seen as a pull factor. However, the site is not available in English so this could be an obstacle for tourists.

I would really recommend anyone that has an interest in growing their own vegetables or fruit to visit the Stadsakker as they have everything that you need to get started!

Reference: Jenkins, O. 2003. Photography and travel brochures: The Circle of Representation. Tourism Geographies 5 (3): 305-328

Blogpost 5 - Emptying your mind at 'de Prinsenhof'

Hello everyone,

Today I want to focus on the theory presented by Victor Turner about liminality. A concept that describes tourism as an activity that relieves the tourist of the struggles of everyday life and provides a kind of bubble in where the atmosphere is relaxed and playful. In light of this theory I want to look at ‘de Prinsenhof’, which  has known several functions over the years but was build in the Middle Ages for the Brethren of Communal Life, a religious party. Today it has the function of hotel/restaurant and it is a place where you can be away from the city’s noises and relax in the beautiful gardens.

In my opinion ‘de Prinsenhof’ is the perfect example of what Turner means when he talks about liminality as it is located on the edge of the city centre and is surrounded by walls, so you are literally in a relaxing bubble. When I read about Turner’s work I feel that actually tourism can also be performed by locals in their own city as it provides some relaxing time in their otherwise busy lives. For tourists, ‘de Prinsenhof’ could be a welcome alternative from the other ‘active’ activities and trips they already did in Groningen that can also cause some stress due to the unknown environment and the fact that you are surrounded by lots of people.

As this blog is about sustainability I want to touch upon that as well in this blog post. De Prinsenhof is not actively trying to be sustainable in my opinion. However, they do have vegetarian dishes in their restaurant and they also make use of local and seasonal products. Furthermore, the building itself is ofcourse very old and served many function so this could be seen as something sustainable is well.

Reference: T. Edensor. 2009. Tourism.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Blogpost 4 - Enjoying nature in the Noorderplantsoen

Hello everyone,

This time I want to take you to the Noorderplantsoen, the city’s most famous park. It is situated in the north of the city centre and was build on the defense walls of the 17th century and was opened in 1880. I found it hard to judge a park on its sustainability as my first thought was that all parks are in fact sustainable.

However, as  I did some further research on the park I came across a website set up by the local community that lives in the Noorderplantsoen area. It is used to inform each other about current events in the neighbourhood but also they have set up a project called ‘Groenste Buurt’  (the greenest neighbourhood ) that aims at keeping the area energy neutral and as sustainale as possible. And it is in fact the greenest neighbourhood of Groningen for the second time in a row.

For tourists the park is a good venue to play sports, grab a coffee or enjoy the sun, the rare moments that it is in fact shining in Groningen.  Because the park offers lots of opportunities to play different sports and for kids to play around I would say it is in fact sustainable as these activities do not leave an ecological footprint. Also the local community is benefitting from it which is often a part that is forgotten when talking about sustainability. Improvements could be made though  to be even more sustainable. For example, replacing the street lanterns by lanterns that run on energy generated by the sun.

I think the Noorderplantsoen is the perfect place for stadjers, students and tourists to be outside for a while and to enjoy the nature, and in my opinion parks contribute a lot to living more sustainable.