Face to face with: Erik van Essen


Erik van Essen, new general manager Rotterdam Partners

Rotterdam Partners, is a great and important partner organisation of Rotterdam, manages and executes the city marketing. As a result, the city welcomes 50 new businesses, 30 business conferences and 1 million daily visitors on average every year. In this way, Rotterdam Partners contributes to creating an attractive entrepreneurial climate as well as a liveable and vibrant city for Rotterdam visitors and its residents.

On 1 March, Erik van Essen was appointed general manager of Rotterdam Partners. Van Essen has many years’ experience as a director in the business and public-private sector. He worked as the Regional Director at transport company Connexxion, after holding positions at P&O Ferries, Center Parcs and Landal GreenParks. Van Essen is a native Rotterdammer.

Rotterdam has seven beautiful and attractive town centres (e.g. the City centre, the Oude Haven, Kop van Zuid, Zuidplein, Delfshaven) How does one accomplish in highlighting these areas even more? 

“Rotterdam is a popular destination for visitors. Last year, the city received 1,496,000 million hotel guests, half of them from abroad. We and our partners inform our mostly German, Belgian and British guests as best as we can to inspire them to explore as many interesting places in the city as possible. Providing a hospitable welcome to visitors is a joint effort. As Rotterdam Partners, we are part of the Hospitality Platform (Platform Gastvrij) hereto. Together with the municipality of Rotterdam, Cruise Port Rotterdam, Public Transport, Rotterdam Festivals, Rotterdam The Hague Airport and entrepreneurs of Rotterdam City Centre, we have formulated and implemented a collective vision to provide visitors with a hospitable welcome. For many years, we have included as many districts and places as possible on the city plan we have ready for our visitors. The Rotterdam City Card is another way in which we introduce visitors to the fine things our city has to offer. We also have our social media channels and the visitor website www.rotterdam.info for this purpose.”

Rotterdam is a beautiful, robust and hospitable city. Good accessibility is key to this. What are your views on this in the light of road works and major maintenance projects? 

“From our experience with the international companies we helped set up business in Rotterdam, we learned last year that they are very pleased with the public transport in and around the city. Many employees depend on the train, metro and bus to travel between their home and their work. And many international visitors also travel to Rotterdam by public transport. The road network in the Rotterdam region is one of the busiest in the Netherlands. Maintenance projects are inevitable to keep the region’s future accessibility up to standard. In the meantime, the city and the airport are easy to reach also by train.”

You are known for underlining the importance of collaboration. What’s your view on managing this for Rotterdam at a municipal, regional, national and international level? 

“Yes, we believe in the power of collaboration. For nearly two months, I have been the managing director of Rotterdam Partners now and I have had many introductory interviews. During these interviews, the strength of the Rotterdam network became very clear as well as how everybody is doing their utmost to cooperate. Rotterdam Partners has a partner network, ‘Connect to Rotterdam & Partners’ where we connect entrepreneurs and work together on the promotion and sales of the city. This network is incredibly important to us, because we really need the entrepreneurs in the city to continue to promote Rotterdam internationally unitedly. As a city, it is important to be able to welcome all those visitors properly, whether for a conference or a weekend stay. So this collaboration is of major importance to me.”

“Nationally and internationally, we are members of several network organisations to make the city and our partners more visible and to gain knowledge that we then can share with our partner network,” says Erik van Essen. “I look forward to extending the strong collaboration already in place in the city with Rotterdam Partners, so that we can make the city even more liveable and vibrant, and consequently even more attractive!”