Welcome to Utrecht?

I love Holland. I particularly love Utrecht. My first girl friend was Dutch. That’s why it is particularly disappointing to write this.

Visiting Utrecht last week, I had reason to go to the Tourist Office. “Welcome in Utrecht” it says on a couple of signs. More of that later.

I collected the books I wanted and went to the service till at the front of the office. It was empty. Three staff were stood at the tills at the back of the shop. There were no other visitors. Looking up I made eye contact with one of the assistants behind her till and used the universal tourist signal, pointing at her then back at me and then back to her again. We all know that means “Do you want me to come to you?” She ignored me and looked away.

Some welcome.

Eventually an assistant came from the back office and said to follow her to the back of the shop, to where the assistant was working. When I pointed out the rudeness, she said “Well I wasn’t here then…” which is not quite the apology I would have expected.

What does this say about the way visitors to Utrecht should be treated?

Are we “Welcome in Utrecht” but only in Utrecht itself, not the Tourist Office? Does Utrecht want visitors or are they an imposition?

It’s a shame, as I said, I love Utrecht. It is an amazing place with so much to see and do and as a regular I feel at home there.

It could have been that the assistant had been going through a bad day, but she has to remember, she is the face of Utrecht, she represents what the city is all about and in this case, it wasn’t a good look.

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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