When you visit the historical city of Gouda, you can’t miss out on the Gouda Cheese Experience where according to The New York Times visitors can enjoy ‘a tasting of artisanal old Gouda cheeses’. According to The Guardian the tourist destination is one of the main highlights in the world-renowned Dutch capital of cheese. Sandenburg-DST was one of the founding partners that created the crowd pleaser which is a popular destination among foreign tourists.
Inside the Gouda Cheese Experience visitors are invited to discover an interactive outing inside the world of Gouda cheese. The tourist attraction is located in a historical building in the heart of Gouda. Back in 2016 the municipality of Gouda and the province of South-Holland approached Sandenburg-DST with the request to develop a concept for a privately funded tourist attraction dealing with Gouda cheese. This included a feasibility study and business plan.
Gouda formulated the ambitious goal to grow in six years time from 800.000 visitors to one million visitors in 2022, the anniversary of 750 years city rights. The new magnet for tourists about cheese had to be all about scent, taste and touch, but especially experience. Education, film and gaming. The whole package. The clever interplay of creating a support base, stakeholder management, exploring the financial structure, design and business plan made it possible to ripen the dream of the Gouda Cheese Experience.
Sandenburg-DST created the concept and scouted the location best suited for the destination. It helped the founders to find substantial co-financing from sponsors FrieslandCampina and Vergeer Holland. The team created the financial architecture for the investment loan and conjured up financial support from the Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten, in combination with a guarantee by the municipality of Gouda. The management of the foundation Stichting Gouda Cheese Experience is in the hands of the founders Mia Schaap and her daughter Femke van Munster. Mia Schaap: “Until the opening in June 2020 Gouda city centre only offered three cheese stores and 66 hours of cheese experience on the Gouda Cheese Market and the old scale to weigh cheese in the Gouda Weighing House. The Cheese Experience is opened 365 days a year.”
“Even cheese professionals are blown away by all the knowledge they acquire during a visit. You learn about the manufacturing process of cheese and receive meaningful insights about our culture and the battle we fought to maintain Gouda as a cheese brand.”
Mia Schaap, Founder Gouda Cheese Experience
The agency designed seven out of ten spaces and coordinated the realization of the Gouda Cheese Experience. This involved a close cooperation with several specialists in the fields of manufacturing, monumental care, installations, interior building, exhibitry, retail, horeca, lighting, audio visual equipment and interaction design.
At the opening in June 2020 alderman Thierry van Vugt of the municipality of Gouda stated the intention to lure visitors in staying longer in the region, thereby accumulating more income from tourism. “We hope to welcome over the coming years a lot of visitors for Gouda and the Experience. They can decide to travel outside the city to discover Cheese Valley and everything that the Green Heart of the Randstad region has to offer.”
FrieslandCampina believes that the partnership offers a beautiful opportunity to interest more Dutch tourists with the science behind producing cheese. Yves Vancoillie, Director Strategic Pricing & Market Intelligence FrieslandCampina: “Entering the building, you step inside the world of cheese. An interactive journey that invites the public to learn more about the history, preparation method and taste of Gouda cheese. A visit is a completely way of discovering everything about cheese and buying cheese. FrieslandCampina will use the sponsorship to promote our brand name and what makes Gouda cheeses so special.”
Board member Diederik Vergeer of family business Vergeer Holland states that the overwhelming interest from Dutch and foreign tourists has grown the appetite to receive more visitors. “We are enthusiastic about Gouda Cheese Experience and will give it all our support.” At the store of the destination Vergeer Holland sells exclusively a special Gouda cheese, ripened for at least 750 days, celebrating 750 years city rights for Gouda.