Keukenhof can't open; 2nd year of major losses
If this had been a normal year, the Keukenhof would have opened on Saturday. But due to the coronavirus lockdown, this is not allowed. And with that, the Netherlands' famous flower park is facing a second year of flowers blooming without anyone to see them, and millions of euros in losses, director Bart Siemerink said to NU.nl.
Seven million flower bulbs went into the ground last autumn, with the hope and expectation that the Keukenhof could open on March 20. In normal years, the Keukenhof is open for eight weeks. "We don't know if and when we will be allowed to open. We will as soon as it is possible," Siemerink said.
The Keukenhof needs 750 thousand to 800 thousand visitors per year to break even. With the ongoing travel restrictions, it seems unlikely that the park can expect any foreign visitors this year. "In 2019 we had 300 thousand visitors from our own country. If that is possible this year, we will still be at a loss. The bulbs are already in the ground, most of the costs have already been made. But then people can at least still get to enjoy it."
The park is expecting a loss of 5 to 10 million euros this year. If the park can't open at all, that will be a loss of 22 million euros in turnover. But according to Siemerink, it stretches much further than that. The region is also losing hundreds of thousands of euros. "This ranges from cottage rental, taxis and food to maintenance in the park. It involves thousands of jobs," he said. "But the park is also a living exhibition of floriculture. Exporters show that to their customers. If all of that is not possible, it will also have an impact in the longer term."
Siemerink thinks the Keukenhof can open safely in the current lockdown. The park covers 32 hectares, about 50 football fields, and has 15 kilometers of walking trials. "You don't even see a little over 5 thousand people in the park." The park can open with measures like exclusively online ticket sales, time slots, and mechanical gates. All buildings would remain closed, and catering establishments would operate as they do outside the park - takeaways only, he said.
The Keukenhof will survive, even if it can't open at all this year, Siemerink added. "We are a non-profit foundation with solid assets," he said. "We don't have our backs to the wall. The financial suffering is already over now anyway. So just let people enjoy the bulbs at least."