Eindhoven has missed out on the National Citymarketing Trophy this year. Leiden has run off with the honour and follows in the footsteps of Dordrecht as the winner. The award was presented during the National Congress on City Marketing at the Frits Philips Eindhoven Muziekgebouw, where city marketing experts met to discuss the latest developments in their field of expertise.

The theme for today: transformation. Chairman of the foundation Network Citymarketing Netherlands Martijn Bulthuis: “Here in Eindhoven we can see this transformation clearly, Strijp-S is a shining example of this.” Bulthuis would like to emphasize that city marketing is much broader than just tourism. “Of course this is an essential part, but we do so much more.”

Ilya Leonard Pfeijffer, author of the bestseller Grand Hotel Europa, does want to talk about tourism. Pfeijffer finds it too simplistic to see tourism as the root of all evil. “Too often it is seen as a holy grail, as a solution for an economy that’s not doing well, or as an alternative revenue model. In Italy – where I live – this happens a lot. Old-fashioned economies are no longer worthwhile. They are forced to go back to what they have: a great deal of history and art.”

“Venice is the place which has been destroyed by mass tourism the most. It’s not a city anymore, it’s an open-air museum. Residents are moving away and if this continues, there will be no one living there by 2030.” The tragic thing about this is that many European cities have no other alternative according to Pfeijffer. “Various international studies have shown that cities lack a proper economy; they often have no other option. Amsterdam and Berlin – where tourism is becoming problematic – have the luxury of putting a halt to tourism. The local economy can still cope with the lack of tourists here.”

But now the city must intervene, Pfeijffer states. “Before it’s too late. The government have to curb this. Leaving this to the free market is not an option. Then tourism wins.” Pfeijffer is now really gathering steam and argues in favour of abolishing Airbnb: “Unfair competition -and it only causes trouble for the neighbours. Hotel owners have to comply with all kinds of rules – which are not there to pester entrepreneurs, but rather for safety’s sake. Airbnb flouts those rules.”

There is no Amsterdam frenzy in Eindhoven (yet), and no massive contempt for travel trolleys here. But if that ever happens, the region will not become dependent on tourism. The economy is doing well. Mayor John Jorritsma speaks in terms of Chinese figures – 4.9 percent growth in 2018. Jorritsma: “We remain close to our founding fathers, the technical nerds of Philips. We are strong in expertise, technology and design and that is something we convey. People from all over the world come to see how we do this. With as absolute highlights the Dutch Technology Week and Dutch Design Week. These events attract many visitors. This region plays an important role in the national economy and we will be building four thousand homes in the near future. That transformation from the 1990s, when Eindhoven was practically bankrupt, is wonderful. The important thing is that residents can also be proud of their city.”