After over 20 years in the Amsterdam area, Media Wise has moved to The Hague, city of peace and justice. Not that locations are very relevant in these times of remote working. But new horizons bring new opportunities. A different client mix, different social circles and possibly a nicer way of living, in a smaller city near the sea.
One of my new contacts told me the Hague is a “village in a city”. It certainly feels like that. We travel to most places by bicycle, without having to fight with fellow cyclists wanting to race past you. Without nearly running over tourists, who don’t realize that bike lanes are cyclists’ sacred territory.
When I first moved to Amsterdam in 1986 as a foreign correspondent for Reuters, Amsterdam, too, felt like a village in a city. No reservations were necessary at most restaurants. In the morning I could speed-cycle to work, unencumbered by traffic, all the way down the Leidsestraat and pedestrianised areas. The year before, in 1985, the population of Amsterdam had touched a cyclical low of 675,000. In that entire year, the Netherlands received 4.5 million foreign tourists following a big drop in U.S. visitors. In 2019, ahead of the pandemic, the Amsterdam population reached 863,000, an increase of 28% in the 34 years, and tourist numbers topped the 20 million mark. Amsterdam tourism is expected to have shrunk to a quarter of that, in 2020 during the pandemic. The local population is relieved. But the crowds will be back, with time.
The population of The Hague is much smaller than Amsterdam and attracts only a fraction of the capital’s visitors. Tourists stacked up at just 1.85 per 1 resident in 2019, leaving plenty of room for growth. The Hague has 40 museums, some world class, compared with Amsterdam’s 75.