City Safari meets International Advisory Board on Diversity in the city

On May 15, 2019 City Safari CEO Marjolijn Masselink addressed the International Advisory Board Rotterdam (IABx). Seven international experts on travel, tourism and urban development are presently in Rotterdam to counsel the city on the future of tourism. Rotterdam Partners, the city’s tourism board, uses their input for a draft tourism policy for commissioner Said Kasmi. Marjolijn invited seven of City Safari’s hosts who represent the diversity of the city. During a bus tour the hosts and experts paired up for a personal meeting after the following introduction:

My name is Marjolijn Masselink. I’m an entrepreneur and have been Rotterdammer half my life. My business is City Safari. Safari, not in the sense of shooting elephants, but in its real meaning in Swahili. Safari is MY JOURNEY, a journey away from home and the security of your family. That’s what we do in the city: we take you out of your comfort zone and introduce you to the unknown other. Not to your peers in another city, but to people across the cultural divide. We give you a taste of the diversity of the city and have done that for twenty years. We have set up over 120,000 personal encounters over the years, as a social enterprise, without government subsidies. We are now expanding to other cities in the Netherlands and abroad.

”We ask our guests to meet our hosts with an open mind and a good dose of curiosity. We have agreed with our hosts that there are no taboos on questions as long as there’s respect for each other’s differences. And this, for us, is not just a business opportunity. We deeply believe that our efforts contribute to the quality of life in the city. That cities are diverse is a fact. Personal meetings across communities are essential for a better understanding.

“Our guests leave with reduced prejudice and an experience they’ll never forget. For our hosts, these personal meetings are just as valuable. It is a boost for their self-esteem as an active participant in the urban community. A friendly society is created one personal meeting at a time. That is true between locals, but just as true for visitors to our city.

“I strongly believe that tourism should benefit all people who live and work in the city. Visitors should be attracted to the city for what it is and not for its attractions. The top two Rotterdam attractions in the latest edition of Lonely Planet are architecture and the Boijmans museum. None of them involve human contact. And the museum will be closed for the next seven editions of Lonely Planet.

“I now introduce you to the people of Rotterdam and your personal meeting. If you move to window seats only, you’ll be joined by some of our hosts who represent the diversity of the city. Thank you.”

Larry Beasley, former director of urban development in Vancouver teamed up with Jamila Talai who came to Rotterdam as a refugee from Afghanistan,

Peter Jordan, ‘Head of Insights’ at Toposophy, talked to Gunno Zwakke and Fred Fitz James who runs a radio station and a Winti shop that cater to the Surinam diaspora,

Anna Pollock, founder of ‘Conscious Travel’ talked to Zoe Cochia, Rumanian artist working with strongminded youngsters in the Niffo project

Martin Boisen, Danish master in human geography, specialized in placemaking and city branding, exchanged ideas with Jo Cillen, artist and self-proclaimed captain of the motorship Noordereiland.

Jeremy Smith, consultant and author on tourism and sustainability had a conversation with Tamina Telai, specialist in International Law and Jamina’s daughter,

Mieke de Roeck, director of Visit Antwerp, met with Bunyamin Yildiz, imam of the Mevlana Mosque

and Claudio Milano, antropologist at the Ostelea School of Tourism in Barcelona had a lively encounter with Amina Houssen, leader of the Power Women initiative; she came to Rotterdam as a refugee from Somalia.

Posted 5/16/2019 1:19:11 PM