marina marnemoende: a look behind the scenes

Responsible tourism, that makes us think of destinations like Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands or the Amazon Rainforest. However, the Netherlands have also some interesting places with astonishing accommodations. Moreover, it saves a long and polluting flight for the Europeans among us. Marina Marnemoende is a great example of a sustainable and touristic location close to Utrecht. We wrote a report about an interview with Jan Kromwijk, one of the founders of project Marnemoende.

the beginning

The beginning of the project was a bit of a coincidence. The land-use plan for the area was changed, and the former farm of Jan didn’t fit in this plan anymore. Jan mentioned that he had three choices. The first option was to start the farm somewhere on the other side of the country, the second option was retiring and the third one was more creative: Turn it into something beautiful! “We did not have any experience in the tourism sector, but with the help of the right people it’s doable.”

Besides the marina, the location contains a restaurant, a boat storage and two special kinds of accommodations. The wooden cabins and the floating camping rafts are perfect examples of some sophisticated forms of tourism. The latter is also quite adventurous, you have to canoe to these rafts and you sleep completely in harmony with nature. Sometimes it’s even too adventurous: “Once, a few people booked the camping raft for some days. When they arrived at the Marina however, it turned out that these people didn’t dare to travel by canoe.” Because this is a crucial aspect of the camping rafts, they canceled the booking.

"We did not have any experience in the tourism sector, but with the help of the right people it's doable."

Responsible tourism?

Marina Marnemoende can be considered as a precursor of responsible tourism. Before the hype started, Jan was already focusing on nature and sustainability. The shape of the marina for example is rounded, and not aimed to store as many boats as possible. The aim was actually to fit the marina into the landscape! Furthermore, Marina Marnemoende uses a heat pump, solar panels, led lights and biodegradable cleaning products. They also sort waste and try to reduce the water consumption. Besides that, responsible tourism is also about the social environment. From the beginning, mentally disabled people were employed. Moreover, the restaurant uses many regional products.

AIRbnb and other promotion

In short, responsible tourism is applied greatly to Marina Marnemoende. Nevertheless, you have to do more to attract tourists, and sometimes you have to be lucky. A Belgian TV program about traveling was very useful in that regard. They visited some floating camping rafts in Belgium, and when the handsome (female) host asked: “Should I jump into the water naked?”, the video went viral and that gave a lot of publicity.  Marina Marnemoende profited highly from such a random event.

Another interesting way of promotion is Airbnb, but this is not always convenient, according to Jan. People do not always read the descriptions of the accommodations. “Some young Chinese girls booked the camping raft via Airbnb, but when they arrived with huge suitcases, the rafts were a big surprise.” They expected just regular bedrooms, but unfortunately, they had to canoe to these camping rafts instead.

"When the handsome (female) host asked: 'Should I jump into the water naked?' the video went viral"

Future

Jan has also some remarks about the future. “The market determines the way of tourism, just like it used to be. Unlike the past, the consumers nowadays want more personal experience. Large holiday parks do not satisfy that criterion, and they will become less popular.” The focus of tourists is much more on nature, and sustainable holidays become more and more normal.

This means that Marina Marnemoende has a great potential. “We put a lot of effort in the promotion, and we are for example nominated for the top 100 most beautiful camping places in the Netherlands!” The Marina is literally located in the backyard of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht and Jan looks forward to a bright future.

by Bart

TheGreenGrasshopper