Dutch smart phone market 'saturated', 83% of over-12s now have one

Mother, 21, accused of terrorism, says IS actions in Syria were ‘terrible’

The Dutch market for smart phones, tablets and e-readers is 'fully saturated' and almost everyone who wishes to own one or more of the devices does so, market research group GfK said on Thursday. Some 83% of the over 12s now have a smart phone, while 67% have a tablet and 25% an e-reader. The interest in smart televisions and watches is also virtually unchanged, GfK said. The number of smart phones and tablets in Dutch households doubled over the past five years but scarcely rose in 2016. In terms of social media, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest show the most growth.  Some 72% use Facebook, unchanged from 2015 but fewer people are visiting Twitter, GfK said.   More >

Dutch unemployment lowest in 10 years

Mother, 21, accused of terrorism, says IS actions in Syria were ‘terrible’ The Dutch unemployment rate fell to 5.4% in the final quarter of 2016, the lowest level in 10 years, national statistics agency CBS said on Thursday. The year-end jobless total fell to 482,000 as 39,000 more people found work in the final quarter, the CBS said. A similar drop was last seen in 2006 when the unemployment figure dipped to 4.6% from 5.5%. At the same time, the number of unemployment benefit (WW) claims had fallen 34,000 to 412,000 by the end of the year. Consumer spending The CBS also said Dutch consumer spending increased by 2.8% in November, the highest rate in six years. A major reason for the increase is that temperatures were on average 4.5 degrees lower than in the year-earlier period, meaning households turned their heating on earlier. Spending on consumer durables such as clothing, furniture and household appliances rose by 4.5% in the period. Confidence The consumer confidence index rose one point to +13 in January, its highest level in 9.5 years, the CBS said. The slight increase is due to more positive views about the economy in general and consumers’ willingness to buy fell slightly.  More >

Utrecht red light plan delayed

Utrecht red light plan delayed after building firm fails integrity test Plans to build 160 rooms to create a new red light district in Utrecht have been delayed after officials said they had concerns about the integrity of the outside investor who won the contract to build the brothels. Mayor Jan van Zanen told RTV Untrecht that research into the investor, BeJa Accommodaties, had show ‘there is a very serious risk’ criminal offences will be committed within the new zone. He did not go into further detail. It is also unclear why concerns have been raised about the Hoogeveen-based company six months after it was awarded the building contract. The new red light district is being built to replace the old floating brothels which were closed down in 2013 because of human trafficking concerns. A spokesman for BeJa told the broadcaster the decision to break the contract had come as a surprise. A second developer, a Zeist-based foundation known as Non Nobis, is now top of the list to land the contract, the AD said. When completed, the new district will have 162 prostitution rooms and brothel managers will be able to run up to 32 rooms each.  More >

Birds v tourists in nature reserve row

Future of the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve under scrutiny – again Nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen may be turned into a tourist attraction with cycle and walking routes if the Flevoland provincial council gets its way, broadcaster NOS reports. A majority of local councillors, led by the VVD and SGP, are looking to force a decision on the management of the reserve which was turned over to the provincial authorities in 2016. The management of the reserve – situated between Almere and Lelystad – has been a bone of contention for decades. The plans, which will make the Oostvaardersplassen part of the Nationale Park Nieuw Land , have provoked furious reactions from bird protection organisation Vogelbescherming Nederland as well as nature lovers who fear more tourism will disturb wildlife and destroy the character of the reserve. Foundation Dierbaar Flevoland (Cherished Flevoland) has started a petition against the plans. The proposal puts nature at the service of purely economical interests and will turn the area into a playground, the association claims. At present the wetland is home to 31 species of protected birds and large mammals  such as deer and Konik horses. Human interference in the reserve is kept at a minimum and only small groups of visitors are allowed in. Natural enemies According to the VVD and the SGP, this has meant that the number of large mammals is getting out of hand because they have no natural enemies. They also claim the welfare of the animals is at stake. ‘Animals which feed on grass and shrubs are needed to keep the vegetation in check but we don’t need this many to maintain the landscape,’ the NOS quotes the SGP’s Sjaak Simonse as saying. In 2013 the reserve was the subject of a much-praised film but according to some critics it glossed over the fact that many of the large animals are culled or starve in winter. In balance But according to ecologist Han Olffs, a professor at Groningen University, there is nothing wrong with the natural balance at the Oostvaardersplassen. ‘The deer and horses are making the land attractive to geese which then maintain the wet reed landscape which functions as a landing strip for protected species,’ NOS quotes him as saying. A complicating factor - and potential future conflict - as far as the geese go is that Vogelbescherming Nederland’s appeal against the extension of Lelystad airport has been turned down on the ground that it poses no threat to the birds at the Oostvaardersplassen. The organisation commented that it trusts the geese in their turn will be not be considered a threat to the airport and will therefore be left alone, NOS writes. Provincial councillors will vote on the plans on February 8.  More >

1800 Dutch tourists cut short Gambia break

Mother, 21, accused of terrorism, says IS actions in Syria were ‘terrible’ Some 1,800 Dutch tourists have ended their holiday in the Gambia early because of the state of emergency, tour operator calamity fund Calamiteitenfonds said on Thursday. The last two planes bringing back holidaymakers arrived at Schiphol airport early on Thursday morning. One had been charted by Corendon, the other by TUI. Former president Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia has refused to recognise the recent election results and on Monday declared a state of emergency in an attempt to block the inauguration of president-elect Adama Barrow. The Dutch foreign ministry then updated its foreign travel advice to essential travel only.   More >