Sunday, February 7, 2016

The end of my holiday: a reflection

It saddens me that my holiday in Groningen already has ended. It all went by so quickly! It is time to reflect on my wonderful time in this beautiful city.

My first goal was to give you a varied view of Groningen. I hope that I have reached this by writing about different things in Groningen, like the Groninger museum and 'het Noorderplantsoen', but also by giving a view of different buildings in the city.

My second goal was to make clear that accessibility is very important in tourism. I have written about some places that are well accessible for tourists with a disability, and about places that are not very accessible. I gave some theories about accessibility, for example the one from Buhalis and Darcy (2012), which says that there needs to be a collaboration between different parties to make accessible tourism possible.

It is time to leave Groningen
My third goal was seeing Groningen through the eyes of a tourist. For inhabitants of Groningen, some places might have become less special by living in the city. 'Het Noorderplantsoen' might not be super special anymore when you cycle through it every day. Another example are the mills which are normal for Dutch people. But for me, and other tourists, they are nice to see. I have also tried to see things not only as a tourism scholar. It was my holiday, I didn't have to think about tourism theories all the time.
So I have shown in this blog things that are interesting for tourists.    

In this blog I have used different theories. I am interested in different sides of tourism, so I have written about heritage tourism, tourist behavior and accessible tourism. 

I hope you have enjoyed my blogposts, my pictures and the theories I have explained. It is now time to go back to New Zealand, but the Netherlands were worth the visit. I really want to come back soon to discover more of this small country.


Buhalis, D., Darcy, S. (2012) Accessible tourism: concepts and issues. Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.

Typical Dutch: a bicycle tour

When you are in the Netherlands, you should try at least one thing: riding a bicycle. This is typically Dutch. This was my last activity here in Groningen, I wanted it to be a nice experience. So I rented a beautiful blue bike and made a tour through Groningen. I saw a lot of nice places. Since I'm interested in cultural heritage, I looked around for special, old buildings. From where my hotel is located, you can almost immediately see a nice water tower. I've heard it is called 'de bovenkamer van Groningen'.
I kept biking and then I saw a mill! It is said that mills are typically Dutch. It was (and sometimes is) used to grind grain. Grain grinding is an old craft.
'De bovenkamer van Groningen'
I saw nice buildings, churches and much more, which you can see on the pictures below.

The mill
Many tourists try the bike when they are on holiday in the Netherlands. Why do they choose to try this? I have an interesting theory for this phenomena. To explain tourist behaviour, you can use the means-end chain. Actually, it is a theory in the marketing. But it can also be applied to tourism. The means-end chain shows the link between an attribute, the consequences of this attribute and the values (McIntosh, Thyne, 2004). I will explain this theory with the decision of many tourist to make a bicycle tour. First, a tourist decides to do a bicycle tour, this is the attribute (or means). He decides this because he wants to see the surroundings and wants to be outside, these are the consequences of the attribute. After that, the value will follow. It is the ultimate goal you want to reach with the means-end chain. In the bicycle case this is that you relax while biking around.

This was my last experience in Groningen. I hope you have enjoyed my blogposts. I will write one last post, which will be a conclusion of the whole trip.


McIntosh, A.J., Thyne, M.A. (2004). Understanding Tourist Behavior Using Means-End Chain Theory. Annals of Tourism Research, 32, 259-262.  

Visiting Bourtange

Today I wanted to visit something outside the city of Groningen. So I travelled to a place close to the German border called Bourtange. It is an old, star-shaped fortress. When you are there, you can visit some museums in the village. One was a replica of a 17th century house. There was also a small synagoge.
Bourtange is an example of cultural heritage, it has a long history from the 16th century till now. A lot of people visit this fortress. Why do people value cultural heritage? I have a theory about that. When visiting heritages, people experience that are affective and individual. Everyone experiences something else. So every visitor has different individual psychological benefits. My theory says that a cultural heritage site is only a setting to have these benefits for the individuals (McIntosh, 1999). So people go to Bourtange because they want to develop in a psychological way. After the visit, they know more about their own values, what they think is important in life.
Then about the accessibility in Bourtange. A shuttle bus was driving around Bourtange. So if you cannot walk extended periods, or when you are in a wheelchair, it was a possibility to go with the shuttle bus. In this way you can enjoy Bourtange. This is a good example of inclusion of people with a disability. In a world were more and more people are getting older, it is important to find solutions to make it possible to visit tourism places. (Buhalis & Darcy, 2011)

To give an impression of how Bourtange looks from the sky, a short movie was made, which you can view on the website of Bourtange and on youtube.

It was interesting to learn more about the history of the Netherlands. My holiday almost comes to an end. I will write about my last activity soon.


McIntosh, A.J. (1999). Into the tourists’ mind: Understanding the Value of the Heritage Experience. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 8, 41-64.

Buhalis, D., Darcy, S. (2012) Accessible tourism: concepts and issues. Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.

The Groninger Museum

Today I visited the Groninger museum. It is located near the railway station, so you can easily get there by train. At this moment there is an exhibition about David Bowie, which is very special. Another special thing was that I could have a talk about tourism with the manager of the Groninger Museum!
He had a lot to tell about tourism. When you think about a museum, tourism is not the first thing that comes to mind. First, the manager told about the history of musea. He used the theory about the 'Grand Tour' (Edensor, 2009). In early modern times, rich people traveled through the classical world in Europe. The first small museums were erected. These museums were only open to people who were 'well dressed'. While on tour, rich people could visit a museum. Later, museums were more and more open for all people, however rich or poor you were. This was an important development in the history of museums.
These days visitors still travel to see an exhibition. For the manager of the Groninger museum, it is a challenge to keep attracting Dutch visitors. For many foreign visitors their visit is just once, because they will not revisit the Netherlands soon. So the manager wants the Dutch people to keep visiting his museum. Therefore, the museum has to be attractive for various groups. Students are a difficult group. How do you get the students interested in a museum?
I think it is important that a museum is not too expensive, since students don't have very much money. Maybe it is a good option to have an exhibition about travelling, since most students like to travel.

Interesting light in the museum
Another aspect of tourism can be found in maintaining the collection. The collections have to 'travel' to the museum. Some collections, for example, travel from Japan to the Netherlands to New Zealand. It is interesting how collections travel a lot too, not only the visitors.

This was a very interesting visit, I have learned a lot!


Edensor, T. (2009). Tourism. International Encyclopaedia of Geography, 301-312.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016


Today I also visited 'het Noorderplantsoen'. It was the last thing I visited before going back to my hotelroom. 'Het Noorderplantsoen' is on the way to the hotel, so it was a good reason to visit it at the end of the day.
'Het Noorderplantsoen' is a place which is loved by the inhabitants of the city of Groningen. It is a large park, in the northern part of the city, close to the city's centre. There is a fountain, a pond with ducks, a restaurant and there are lots of trees and fields. There are playgrounds for children. It is a place where festivals are held, for example, 'Noorderzon' at the end of August. When the weather is nice in the summer, people are picknicking and sunbathing in the park. Sometimes people even barbecue here! The park is also often used to run and to do other exercises like bootcamp. So 'het Noorderplantsoen' is accessible for different groups: children, students, sporters, nature lovers.
Before I visited this park, I was wondering if the park would also be accessible for people with a disability. When I walked through the park, I saw there were roads made of asphalt and there are sandy paths. The sandy paths are not suitable for people in a wheelchair, but the roads made of asphalt are suitable! I was very happy to see that. This way, people in a wheelchair are able to enjoy the beautiful nature of 'het Noorderplantsoen'. It is important that people with a disability get the chance to do the same things as those who don't have a disability. Some think that those with disabilities do not travel, but the opposite is true. I'm glad 'het Noorderplantsoen' already is accessible, but to make the whole tourism sector accessible, the tourism industry has to change their way of thinking. There need to be developed tourism products, services and environment, which will make it possible for people with a disability to function in an independent way and with equity and dignity. There is a need for collaboration between stakeholders who want to enable travel for people with disabilities, This have to be a 'whole life' approach, so people with a disability can benefit their whole life from the accessible tourism. Accessible tourism will be social constructed, the approach has to be for the whole tourism system (Buhalis, Darcy, 2012). There is a long way to go, but 'Het Noorderplantsoen' is a good example of an accessible place for people with a disability.

After this visit, I walked 'home' to my hotel room. There I took some rest and made plans for the next day. You will hear about it soon!  


Buhalis, D., Darcy, S. (2012) Accessible tourism: concepts and issues. Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.

Travel related shops

The 'Martinitoren' is in the centre of the city of Groningen, so I took the chance to go shopping in the centre after the climb. But I did not need to buy new clothes. So, since I am a tourism scholar, I decided to look for travel related shops. The first shop I found was when I bought a ticket for climbing the Martinitower. This shop is called the 'VVV' (the Dutch tourism board). Here you can buy your (typical Dutch) souvenirs and postcards. But you can also get information from experts on the subject tourism in Groningen. They can answer all your questions. I have asked them some, about what is nice to see in Groningen. They told me that the Groninger museum is nice, that Bourtange is worth a visit, and that the 'Noorderplantsoen' is beautiful. So I look forward to see what they recommended me.
The VVV building. It looks a bit like a ship.
I have found another travel-related shop, it is called 'de Zwerver'. They have lots of nice things. You can find maps, books about different countries and much more.

I would like to explain more about tourist behavior. When I walked around in 'de Zwerver' I saw a lot of destinations. How does a tourist choose its destination? This is an interesting question.
One explanation for the places and activities tourists choose is the tourist travel career. Tourism can be compared with making a career. At first, you start working at the level which fits with your education level. In tourism you start a holiday which is on the level suitable with the background of your family and education level. After some time, you want to do other things on your work. In the travel career, sometime after doing the same things on a holiday you want something else. In this career, it is possible to do things which are under the career level you have reached, but you cannot do things which are on a higher level. This is because you are not motivated enough, or you are mentally not ready yet to go to the next level (Pearce, 1987). So when people choose their destination, they choose something which fits with their career level. They are going to have an other type of holiday when they are ready to take another step in their travel career.
These were the things I was thinking about while walking through 'de Zwerver'. After visiting this shop, there was one activity that I enjoyed. I will tell about it in my next blog.


Pearce, P.L. (1987) Psychological Studies of Tourist Behaviour and experience. Australian Journal of Psychology, 39 (2), 173-182.  

Friday, February 5, 2016

The 'Martinitoren'

How the Martinitower looks
After the first day of arriving, eating typical Dutch pancakes and testing my hotel bed, it was time to visit some things in Groningen on the second day. I heard the 'Martinitoren' is something you cannot miss when you are in Groningen. When you are in the centre of Groningen, you can see the tower because of its height.

I bought a ticket and climbed the tower. First I thought: Maybe the tower is accessible for people with a disability. Then I saw the stairs and I thought: No. The 'Martinitoren' over 500 years old, people did not have tourists in mind back then. The stair has 251 steps, so you have to be fit in order to climb the tower. When you have reached the top of the stairs, you can see the view of the centre of Groningen from above. This is a wonderful sight.

But it is a pity this is not available for people with a disability. They also want to do the same things as other tourists. So they might want to watch Groningen from above.

I thought about dark tourism. Maybe the 'Martinitoren' is an example of a dark tourism attraction. Dark tourism means that you want to take a risk on your holiday (Buda, d'Hauteserre, Johnston, 2014). The risk could be going to a place which is very dangerous at the moment, like Syria now. But it can also be a dangerous activity, like bungee-jumping. Before I climbed the 'Martinitoren', I thought it might be a dark tourism attraction, because you climb to a certain height. When you have reached the top, you know it is a bit dangerous, because it is possible to fall down. So you're feeling excited and maybe a bit nervous. You want to take the risk. But when I had reached the top, I saw fences around the tower. Now it is not dangerous anymore. But people might still feel some excitement when they climb in the tower.

So the 'Martinitoren' is not accessible for people who cannot walk, or are not very fit. For the people who are able to climb the tower, it might be a bit like a dark tourism attraction, but not entirely. They may feel scared, but it is not dangerous, because of the fences.

So that was the 'Martinitoren'. I have done more things about which I will tell in my next blogpost.

Some views from the Martinitower

Buda, D.M., d'Hauteserre, A., Johnston, L. (2014). Feelings and tourism studies. Annals of Tourism Research, 46, 102-114.