Tulip growers in the Netherlands are pleading millennials to stop taking selfies among the flowers, after tourists caused thousands of euros’ worth of damage by trampling over the plants in search of the perfect picture.
Colorful tulip fields throughout the Netherlands are popular destinations for visitors, but the rise of the selfie in recent years has resulted in damage as people enter and walk across the fields.
Now the Dutch tourist board and local growers are fighting back, launching a social media campaign and employing a team of “ambassadors” to tell selfie-takers not to step on the bulbs during their travels.
“They cross all over the fields and they damage the [tulips],” grower Simon Pennings, who owns more than 40 fields to the west of Amsterdam, told CNN. He said the problem has emerged “in the last couple of years,” and is driven by younger selfie-takers.
“Last year I had one field and there were 200 people in the field,” he added. “We have to keep them clear … we have fields nearby the road and all the time, from 10 o’clock in the morning to nine in the evening, they take pictures.”
“When the tulips are damaged the bulb won’t grow,” he explained, noting that the selfie-takers ignore some fields in favor of those with pink hues or several different colors.
Pennings estimates that thousands of people walk into his fields to take pictures on a daily basis, and said they once caused 10,000 euros’ worth of damage to his plants. “For me, that was the point where I said, ‘this has to be changed.’”
The Dutch tourist board also blames Instagram for fueling the trespassing problem.
“It is incredibly tempting, of course, to walk into a tulip field and shoot a picture in the sea of wonderful flowers,” an online guide from the board reads, adding: “(but) surely you would not like people to walk into your back yard without asking every day.”
“Ten years ago there were lots of people 50 and older,” Dutch tourist board spokeswoman Elsje van Vuuren told CNN. “In the last two years since, Instagram is up and coming, there are lots of millennials visiting,” she said.
“You are very welcome, please come and visit the flower fields, but please be aware that you’re not allowed to visit the fields inside,” she added, noting that the problem is not confined to the fields.
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“We see it in tulip fields and also in museums,” she said, adding that some museums in the Netherlands are creating “selfie spots” where people can take pictures.
The tourist group’s video says tulips are “nourished with love and cherished by caring Dutch farmers.”
“But a predator lures from above, careless and unknowingly destructive,” the video adds, showing a woman stepping on a flower to take a selfie. “Enjoy our flower fields but make sure it is tulip friendly,” the video says.