Tulips from Amsterdam? A blooming scam, says new probe

THE HAGUE (AFP) – Tourists are being ripped off at Amsterdam’s famous flower market, with just one per cent of all bulbs sold at the floating bazaar ever producing a blossom, investigators said on Tuesday.

A probe commissioned by the Dutch capital’s municipality and tulip growers also found that often only one flower resembled the pictures on the packaging like colour, and that there were fewer bulbs than advertised.

“The probe showed that there is chronic deception of consumers,” at the sale of tulip bulbs at the flower market, the Royal General Bulb Growers’ Association (KAVB) said.

“Millions of tourists and day-trippers are being duped,” KAVB chairman Rene le Clercq said in a statement.

Amsterdam and the KAVB have now referred the matter to the Dutch consumer watchdog.

The Amsterdam flower market is one of the city’s most famous landmarks and dates from around 1862, when flower sellers sailed their barges up the Amstel River and moored them in the ‘Singel’ to sell their goods.

Its fame inspired the popular song Tulips from Amsterdam, best known for a 1958 version by British entertainer Max Bygraves.

Today the market comprises a number of fixed barges with little greenhouses on top. Vendors not only sell tulip bulbs but also narcissus, snowdrops, carnations, violets, peonies and orchids.

But of 1,363 bulbs bought from the Singel and then planted, just 14 actually bloomed, the investigation said.

Investigators found a similar problem along the so-called “flower bulb boulevard” in Lisse, a bulb-field town south of Amsterdam where the famous Keukenhof gardens are also situated.