On Wednesday, travel mpartners and other honoured guests gathered for drinks and hors d'oeuvres at the residence of Anne Gerard van Leeuwen, the Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The event was a reception to honor Operation Market Garden and to announce the recent opening of Liberation Route Europe.
“Today is a very special day as it is the 70th anniversary of Operation Market Garden,” said Rosina Shiliwala, director, North America, Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions. “This has a special significance and tie to Canada as Canadian soldiers had a huge impact in this operation, which ultimately led to the liberation of Holland.”
Operation Market Garden (Sept. 17–25, 1944) was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in World War II.
“Most of the time you commemorate successes and big victories. But you also have to commemorate things that failed and were tragedies,” said van Leeuwen. “And this spring we will be celebrating the liberation of the Netherlands by the Canadian forces. So this is a reason to celebrate a success and victory.”
“We are also here to launch the Liberation Route in the Netherlands,” said van Leeuwen. “The landscape is the most beautiful you can find.”
Just an hour and a half away from Amsterdam, the Liberation Route lets visitors trace the events of WWII in and around three towns in the eastern part of the Netherlands, close to the German border. Liberation Route Europe is a continuously growing, international remembrance trail that connects important milestones from modern European history. It forms a link between the main regions along the Western Allied Forces’ advance from southern England, to the beaches of Normandy, the Belgian Ardennes, Brabant, Arnhem, Nijmegen, the Hürtgen Forest and on to Berlin. The route then continues to the Polish city of Gdańsk. Liberation Route Europe seeks to examine the complex heritage of the Second World War from multiple historical perspectives. It connects this history with life in modern day Europe, as well as other parts of the world, underscoring the role of international reconciliation.
Special guest Loren Christie, CTV Canada AM’s travel expert, talked about his recent travels on this route: “It isn’t that A to Z type of thing that you follow. There are also lots of attractions and museums. There are lots of tourism partners on board and hotels willing to partner and lots of packages and deals.”
Downloadable for visitors on the Liberation Route website is the Liberation Route Europe App, which gives visitors direct access to the storylines, places of interest, historical events and biographies relevant to the site where they currently stand, including historical photographs, audio stories and videos.
“There are more than 85 of those markers around the two provinces and those audio downloads are amazing,” said Christie. “And some of the places are incredible. You hear about the cemeteries in Normandy but some in Holland have over 3,000 Canadians buried there. This route is a great way to see Holland, it’s a great lens to look through it and this is the year to do it.”
Shiliwala then touched on some of the modern day highlights for the past year in Holland, such as the Rijksmuseum re-opening to two million visitors and featuring such pieces as Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Shiliwala also said Holland has seen lots of hotel openings in 2014, with Dutch design hotels to the five-star Waldorf Historia, which opened in a 17th century canal house in Amsterdam.
“Canada remains a very important source market for arrivals into Holland. From January to June this year, Canada arrivals are up five per cent, so we’re really excited about that,” said Shiliwala.
For more information, visit www.liberationroute.com.
PHOTO: (From left) Henny J. Groenendijk, media relations Canada, Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions; Anne Gerard van Leeuwen, the Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Rosina Shiliwala, director, North America, Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions.