About this blog

Dear reader,

I am writing this blog for the Honours College course: Passions of Tourism at the University of Groningen. In this blog I will be writing from my own point of view about different tourist locations and activities in the city and province of Groningen. This blog has an academic base and, therefore, I will be using theories of the tourist academics Hazel Tucker, Simon Darcy, Tom Mordue and (dark tourism). More on the academic background of this blog you will read in my first introduction entry. To conclude, all that is left for me to say is: enjoy reading this blog!

Kind regards,

Mark van de Kraats

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Conclusion



The last entry of this blog I want to devote to a concluding remark. In this blog I have divided the entries roughly between two theoretical concepts. The first 6 entries have covered the theme of tourism performances and tourist experiences in and around Groningen’s many tourism activities. The last entries have examined the accessibility of some of the tourism activities in and around Groningen.
Since this divide might cause difficulties choosing one winner amongst the different tourism activities considering accessibility and performance, I want to start with choosing two winners first. First of all, in terms of Hazel Tucker’s notion on tourist performances I would like to propose the Groningen Nighlife as the best scoring tourist activity in Groningen. One of the biggest attractions of tourists in Groningen are its clubs, bars and pubs. Even when tourist might not know much about it once they have experienced the Groninger nightlife they will perform in the appropriate way. Tourist will just be sucked up in the international student culture and, therefore, experience the nightlife as very friendly and inclusive to foreigners. On the other hand, in terms of accessibility the Canal Tour scores best in Groningen. With the easy access and many different tours to choose the Canal Tours might be the best way, both for tourist with disabilities and others, to explore and experience Groningen city and its surroundings in its completeness. Because of this good performance of the tourist experience in combination with the accessibility for tourists with disabilities, which gives them one of the best ways to explore the city, can we argue that the Canal Tour is the overall winner. Moreover, if we consider accessibility we might run into some difficulties with the Groningen Nightlife; many bars and pubs in Groningen can only be entered via some stairs (see pictures) and might be either to dark or crowed to be enjoyed by tourists with disabilities.

Club Twister
Pub De Negende Cirkel


In conclusion, with this blog I have tried to explore the tourism performance by tourism activities and examine the accessibility in various tourism activities/places in Groningen. But, because of this distinction the third objective – to find the best tourist experience for both tourists and tourists with disabilities – might be troublesome. Nevertheless, considering the eight activities and locations I have looked at one can argue that the Canal Tour will be the best experience for any kind of tourist.


With this conclusion I would like to end this blog and thank everybody for reading.

Lauwersmeer



Lauwersmeer


Probably the first thing a tourist thinks about when talking about Holland is “flat”. A country that is completely flat, with a lot of grass, agricultural crop fields and water everywhere. Well, if the tourists are expecting this Groningen is the perfect example. Being one of the least populated areas in the Netherlands it has a lot of flat uninterrupted landscapes. However, something the tourists might not expect is that Groningen is also home to one of the most beautiful natural park in the Netherlands, the Lauwersmeer. Located in the most northern part of Groningen province it is connected to the Waddenzee, therefore, it has a wide variety of flora and fauna, which the tourists can admire. It is particularly famous for its wide variety of birds that live their or visit the place during their annual migration. 

Notwithstanding that, I already mentioned the Lauwersmeer already in my previous blog post in connection to the boat tours available in Groningen. And considering that the Lauwersmeer is a natural park in which water is the most important part, a boat trip through this park might be the best option to see as much as possible of the park. An additional advantage is that the boats are accessible for wheelchairs and, therefore, have tourists with disabilities a very good opportunity to easily visit this beautiful place. Another way to explore this natural park is by bicycle, there are a lot of routes through the park in order to see all the beautiful places and spot as many birds as possible.[1] Even for tourists in a wheelchair is cycling possible since they can bring their own special bicycle or hire one at the many shops surrounding the Lauwersmeer.

Map of the Lauwersmeer


To conclude, the Lauwersmeer is a very beautiful place that is easy accessible for all kinds of tourists. Doing a tour by boat might be the best opportunity to explore all the secrets of the park, but doing a tour by bike will also be very easy and a fruitful experience.



[1] “Over Dit Natuurgebied,” Natuurmonumenten, accessed December 18, 2015, https://www.natuurmonumenten.nl/nationaal-park-lauwersmeer.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Canal Tour

Canal tour boat


Sightseeing can be a very exhausting activity, especially when you have to push somebody in a wheelchair for instance. The city center of Groningen is not that big so once the tourists have seen the famous buildings and places in the middle of the city center, like the Grote Markt and Martinitower they can choose to do the rest of the sightseeing from a boat. Especially for that particular tourist who has had somebody to push him around all day can this be a welcome change. A private company is offering different types of boat tours through the city and its surrounding. The tours range from a trip around the city center canal to an all day tour to the Lauwersmeer in the north of Groningen province.[1] These tours give the tourists great and easy insights in all the beautiful places Groningen has to offer.

City tour
Tour to Lauwersmeer
   

Especially for tourists with disabilities this can be a very attractive alternative way of doing sightseeing. The private company Kool has arranged facilities to accommodate tourists with disabilities. They have an easy access platform from which all the tours will depart, which is located closely to the Central Station. Moreover, the company has boat specially build to accommodate wheelchairs (see picture). It has a special elevator with which the tourists with wheelchairs have an easy access to the boat. Because of this the notion of Simon Darcy’s disembodiment that tourists experience while being subordinated to transportation is not applicable here.[2] The tourist are respected and threated with care so they will not have any experience disembodiment during the process of boarding the boat.

Wheelchair elevator on a canal tour boat


To conclude, the boat tours through the canals of Groningen is an easy and tourist with disability friendly operation. A trip which gives especially tourists with disabilities a great opportunity to see as much as possible of Groningen and its surroundings without being reminded at the constraints of their physical impairment.





[1] “Rondvaart Opties,” Kool, accessed December 17, 2015, http://www.rondvaartbedrijfkool.nl/NL/rondvaarten.php.
[2] Darcy, “Special Issue: Beyond the Margins (Critical Tourism and Hospitality): (Dis)Embodied Air Travel Experiences: Disability, Discrimination and the Affect of a Discontinuous Air Travel Chain,” 3.

Martinitower



Martinitower


The last entry about the Noorderplantsoen might have been one of a less famous attraction of Groningen. Today, I will make up for that with the most famous landmark of the city: the Martinitower. Such a well-known building should not be excluded from any tourist blog about the city.

However, where my previous five entries have described certain tourist activities/places in relation to how these places are displayed to and experienced by the tourists. These entries have mainly covered the issue of tourist performances and especially the performance of the tourist industry to display their activities towards the tourist. With this entry I want to focus on the other theory I will be using namely, the accessibility of tourist with disabilities in Groningen and its surroundings. And since the Martinitower is such a famous building, I would like to focus on that aspect rather than give some general information, concerning the accessibility of the tower for tourists with disabilities is extremely difficult. For tourists with mobility impairment it is impossible to access the tower. But also for tourists with visible or hidden impairments the tower will form a big challenge.[1] First of all, the tower is only accessible through a very small gate, which would allow now wheelchair to pass through. Next, the visitor of the tower is confronted with a very small and steep staircase of 251 steps, which leads to the platform from which you will have a great view over Groningen and its surroundings. Furthermore, the tower and especially the staircase are very dark and do not have proper lights to illuminate the staircase. (see pictures)

Entrance to tower
View from Martinitower
Entrance gate
Small stairs
Bells in the tower

To conclude, tourists with disabilities have no possibility at all or will encounter big difficulties to enter the Martinitower. As a result, one could say, in line with Simon Darcy, that the experience of tourists with disabilities of the Martinitower will be one of inaccessibility and even discrimination of these types of tourists. For tourists with mobility impairments there might not be a solution due to the architecture and age of the building, however, for tourists with other types of impairments nothing is provided to ease their access. And this is a major shortcoming of Groningen’s most famous landmark. 






[1] Darcy, “Special Issue: Beyond the Margins (Critical Tourism and Hospitality): (Dis)Embodied Air Travel Experiences: Disability, Discrimination and the Affect of a Discontinuous Air Travel Chain.”