Column: Boulevard of broken dreams

During my travels, I have had regular dealings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BZ). On certain trips, they were part principals or traveled with delegates from this department. On location, I have been able to attend drinks, speeches, presentations and all of that at Embassies and residences of Ambassadors with many groups at various destinations. On more than one occasion, of course, I, and so did my travel companions, have feasted my eyes on the splendor of our business cards abroad. Besides the formal agenda, there are of course the (very) informal moments and that’s when you hear the real and unctuous stories. For example, I have since learned that there is a department at BZ that doesn’t exist formally, of course, but secretly, informally, it does. This mysterious section in the basement is also called the Boulevard of Broken dreams. As witty as it is sad.

In the distant past, once you had a job with the government it was an appointment for life. Particularly among blue-blooded corporal students, BZ was a sought-after employer. Preferably through “the little class” through the network work up to a nice foreign post. Of course, it doesn’t work that way in practice and so, after years of roaming the world (at the taxpayers’ expense), a lot of people at BZ are still sitting in the department with an experience richer and an illusion poorer. What they do? No idea… it is said that they can often be found on these Boulevard of Broken Dreams, saddled with some meaningless assignment or report which in all likelihood disappears into a bottom desk drawer. And there are more people working in this department than we care to know about. A fancy Melkert job.

The Court of Audit cracked hard nuts this year about the security of information going to and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry uses eleven systems of which only one is fully approved. ‘The travel advice is not consistent’ stated the Court of Audit. (Incidentally, this study did not cover Covid-19). But it does indicate that things in this domain are not in order at BZ, well the very department that coordinates our national travel advisories. These travel advisories largely determine the current fate of the travel industry. It won’t have escaped your notice that logic is missing from current travel advisories with all the consequences. In the process, the travel recommendations of the various European countries are increasingly, if not almost always, at odds with each other, understandably reducing support. Total chaos lurks and perhaps the sledgehammer blow to the travel industry. And so we as an industry are slowly flowing into the industry of broken dreams….

Sometimes I visualize that the coordination of travel advisories are also made in this department. Why I think that? Because, it seems, the people who work here have somewhat lost the link with reality. And only from these people can I then absorb the lack of logical understanding.

How eagerly I would like to organize an international event for BZ and all its foreign colleagues so that they can brood in peace and security on an unambiguous European directive for travel advice. There are plenty of (empty) convention and event accommodations eager to facilitate beautiful and meaningful meetings….


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This article is written by

Marije Breuker