ALMERE, Netherlands: Almere’s municipal executive, consisting of the Mayor and six aldermen, resigned after the costs for the world horticultural expo Floriade hit €33.8 million.
The city government announced its resignation during a meeting with the City Council on Thursday night 24 June 2022. “Now that visitation numbers are so disappointing, we take our responsability, which is why we announce our resignation tonight,“ said Almere’s aldermen in a joint statement.
They added that while the financial headache is huge, Floriade’s lush green oasis still deserves a visit. “Work on all pavilions has been completed, and its nature is overwhelming,”
Earlier that day, the Floriade organisers and the city of Almere had announced the expo’s latest attendee figures, explaining that not more than 232,000 visitors passed the expo’s gates during the first 72 days. That is approximately one-third of the anticipated visitation numbers.
Floriade added that the drop in spring visitation is a huge financial blow for its organisation and the city of Almere, the expo’s sole shareholder. Both must now confront a loss amounting to an expected €33.8 million.
The Floriade budget was based on 2 million visitors during the entire event. This figure has been adjusted to 1.2 million.
In a letter to Almere’s city council, Mayor Ank Bijleveld says she is hugely disappointed by what unfolded unexpectedly yesterday. “We want to continue to make sure that as many people as possible can visit the Floriade. The Expo and the city deserve it. The best way to go forward is to keep the costs for the municipality as low as possible.”
Floriade’s marketing research found that variables that impact Dutch ‘recreational behaviour’ include inflation, Covid-19, and rising energy prices. Day-trippers interested in all things botanical tell that their interest these last years has remained the same or has increased. The Dutch are, however, less inclined to visit day-trip attractions compared to the pre-pandemic era. Now that more is permitted, people are more inclined to take part in social activities with friends or family, such as visiting each other, going for a drink together or perhaps out for a meal. They might also visit an attraction they already know of, which they can finally access again. Only then do people consider a new day trip such as the Floriade. It also became clear that the current ticket price is seen as high by some target groups.
Floriade puts partially the blame on itself saying that after the end of the Corona pandemic, there was so much still to be done in the park in the first weeks after the opening. However, the organisers are quick to add that since the start of May, the expo grounds have flourished into a fully-fledged theme park for sure, with many nice activities and a fully-grown arboretum. According to the organisers, visitors mention all this in reviews.
Meanwhile, Floriade BV has announced it will be introducing a number of measures in order to reach at least 1.2 million by the end, which is 9 October.
In order to attract more visitors, Floriade will put more marketing muscle behind its expo, with campaigns targeting a wider audience and more specific groups of people. They also announced more attractive pricing, easier ticketing procedures, and free ‘highlight tours’ of the Floriade Park.
Almere government is currently in discussion with the Province and the Dutch government to see how they can fill the hole in Floriade’s financial system.