5-speed listening (Tourism - Level 6)

Dutch towns tell tourists how to behave



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It's great being a tourist and leisurely wandering around old towns and villages seeing the sites, but is it such a thrill for the local residents? Villagers living in the area known as 'Old Holland' outside of Amsterdam have had enough of visitors traipsing around and of tour guides with megaphones disturbing their peace. They have got together with local tour companies to create rules of conduct for tourists. The rules include not photographing residents without permission, not strolling into their gardens and not dropping litter. The new code of conduct is an attempt to deal with the growing popularity of the region. Tourism is booming and the number of tourists is expected to rise by 50 per cent in the next decade.

Old Holland is an idyllic area that matches people's image of Dutch life from a slower, bygone age. There are windmills everywhere and locals live in beautifully preserved, traditional wooden houses. Local resident Peter-Jan van Steenbergen told Holland's Het Parool newspaper that the village of Zaanse Schans is like an open-air museum. He said: "I talked to one resident who opened his curtains in the morning and looked into the camera lenses of nine amateur photographers." He added: "The visitors seem happy to knock on the wooden houses to see if it is real wood. If you are the resident of that house, that is not pleasant, of course." He said the busloads of tourists were the biggest nuisance.

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