Tourists stay away from NATO conference

25th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 October 2007, NOORDWIJK (dpa) - As NATO top officials convened in Noordwijk, on the Dutch North Sea coast, life in the touristy beach resort appeared to go on as usual.

25 October 2007

NOORDWIJK (dpa) - As NATO top officials convened in Noordwijk, on the Dutch North Sea coast, life in the touristy beach resort appeared to go on as usual.

In close cooperation with the local municipality, Dutch military police made an effort to keep their presence in the village to a minimum.

On the main street in the centre, locals and tourists alike continued to shop and walk around undisturbed.

Only the sites of the four hotels where the summit took place on Wednesday and Thursday were changed into what Dutch officials called heavily guarded "military terrain".

The beach, closed off already late September for reconstruction work, also remained closed for security reasons this week.

Military and police presence in the streets around the hotels and the promenade was high. A minesweeper patrolled up and down the coast opposite the hotels. In the sky, helicopters circled over the hotels continuously.

But the crowds of tourists that had been predicted by the Dutch authorities stayed away on Wednesday.

With a strong autumn sea wind and a temperature of just 9 degrees Celsius, just 200 people - mostly parents and children on autumn holiday - came to watch NATO officials and the outdoor military equipment exhibition.

Contrary to earlier announcements by the Dutch defence ministry, the outdoor exhibition was rather limited, consisting merely of two tanks, an F-16 fighter plane, and some smaller devices.

Earlier in the day, public transportation continued to run normally as officials drove into the beach resort, accompanied by police or military cars.

Interestingly, buses ceased operating during the NATO sessions that began after 2 pm.

Noordwijk is a beach town with a population of 24,831 in the Dutch province of South Holland.

Ever since 1992, it has been the site of ESTEC, the European space centre. It functions both as a research and a public exhibition centre.

The Noordwijk town actually consists of two parts, one located in-land while the other, a former fishermen's village, located by the sea shore.

In the late 19th century, several luxurious hotels were built in the village, transforming Noordwijk into an upscale beach resort.

The first luxurious hotel to open in Noordwijk, in 1885, was Huis ter Duin, where most of the NATO meetings were taking place on Wednesday and Thursday.

During World War II, the hotel was repossessed by the Germans and functioned as one of the Nazi headquarters in the occupied Netherlands.

Today, Noordwijk has lost most of its grandeur. Apart from the luxury hotels, the village functions as a beach resort for the masses.

Protesters kept away from the meeting. The only minor disturbance came in the form of a women dressed up as a clown who was immediately apprehended by the police.

[Copyright dpa 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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