Opinion: Back to basics

POSTED: 03/17/14 6:39 PM

The battle cry of mudslinging Vromi-Minister Maurice Lake has reached the Netherlands, where the Telegraaf headlined an article “Back to basics and digital detoxing.”

What is this all about? Trend watchers on the other side of the ocean say that traditional camping vacationing is about to change this year. We are going back to basic and we are going to detox digitally, is the opinion of the spokeswoman of trend bureau Cherry Picker.

So where are those campers heading? To a camping lifestyle that is shorter, more basic, but still with sufficient luxury. If readers detect a contradiction here, we’re with them.

Eurocamp did a survey that shows that vacationers want to escape from the pressures of their fast daily lives to destinations where they encounter experiences. Some people are prepared to go far. Believe it or not (which is sometimes a stretch with reports in the Telegraaf) but some people go and live like a hamster in a hamster hotel; some people go to the Fabeltjeskrant-hotel and the VW-camper has been restored to its former glory. According to the trend bureau people want to go back to basic, back to nature. (For the uninitiated, the Fabeltjeskrant is a children’s TV-program about the Large Animal Forest located in Myth Land (Fabeltjesland). It was first broadcast on September 29, 1968. Now in its 46th year, the program is still going strong).

All this is a good hint for the back to basics approach of our Vromi-Minister. It does not mean more asphalt, like the ring road for instance, it means more nature, like the Emilio Wilson Estate. More nature means protection of our ponds, and a careful handling of projects that affect those ponds and lagoons, like the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

And then there is the trend towards digital detox. It is hard to believe that masses of vacationers want to leave their homestead without their trusted digital gadgets. We once witnessed a couple having dinner in a picturesque place called Deshayes on Guadeloupe. They seemed at ease with each other, but they hardly exchanged a word. Instead the woman was on her smartphone, doing all kinds of stuff, then handing the darn thing over to her friend, husband, toyboy or whatever the heck he was, and then the man would stare intensely at the small screen and tap some buttons. It sure as hell is a nice way to avoid arguments during dinner. Maybe it was a digital marriage or something.

Cherry Picker foresees a detox from all this electronic gadgetry. That’s a tad different from the findings of another survey that shows that 82 percent of camping vacationers expects to find fast, safe and free internet at the places where they choose to part their caravans or set up their tents.

Especially for children this facility is a must, this survey showed. Back to basics? Forget it. An astonishing 78 percent of youngsters want to have digital entertainment during the vacation and they spend on average 2.5 hours per day on it. There is therefore 22 percent of youngsters that has kept its sanity and wants to enjoy a vacation in a different way.

Cherry Picker claims that people are looking for contacts with each other, even though reality shows that those contacts remain mostly digital. People Facebook, Twitter, and text message – they seem to prefer avoiding contacts with warm bodies.

Cherry Picker claims that whole families want to venture into nature and that these families want to have a good story when they come back home. At the same time they want safe and luxury accommodation. That takes the fun out of the desire for adventure, of course, but maybe we are nitpicking here.

Cherry Picker says that tree-huts are popular, as are wilderness camps, farm vacations between the cows, birdhouses in Japan and ultramodern design tree-huts in Sweden. Mind you, those holidays are not cheap; their prices are on a par with luxury hotel rooms.

Note that these luxury craving adventurers do not go to the beach – at least, that word did not appear in Cherry Pickers’ back to basics approach. It is time to do our own survey to figure out what our visitors want, but for that the government will have to activate the Tourist Statistical Information System. For reasons unknown, that seems to be a problem. Maybe it is time to go back to basics and do what we have to do.

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