Looking back at the last 10 years of The Hague International Centre

entrance of The Hague International Centre
Published:
15/10/2020

Looking back at the last 10 years of The Hague International Centre

On a exceptionally cold – even snowy – November morning ten years ago, The Hague International Centre adopted the name as we know now. In fact, the Centre went through a few name changes and different setups in its short history. But if we were to delve into the true origins of the Centre, we would have to start in the year 2002.

 

Humble beginnings

The Hague International Centre actually started as the International Corner within the then Information Centre of The Hague. In 2003, it became The Hague Hospitality Centre which was set-up as a welcome desk, offering information about the city to international media, visiting diplomats and visitors. This was an initiative of Willem Post (from the Department of International Affairs at the Municipality of The Hague), who brought the idea back from his travels to the United States.

It was only in 2006 that we moved to the space we now occupy. Renamed the Xpat Desk, then Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende officiated at the opening. There was a dedicated team to attend to all walk-in visitors, and we were the first expat centre in the Netherlands to partner with ACCESS to help the international community with settling-in. By then, expat and international residents have grown considerably due to the establishment of big international organisations like Shell and Europol in The Hague.

 

Ten years and growing

On 29 November 2010, we celebrated the launch of The Hague International Centre. This was a big milestone as the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) desk was incorporated in the Centre, and it helped to streamline our processes to facilitate a smooth registration for expats and internationals.

As international organisations continued to expand, and international residents continued to grow beyond the Municipality, we saw the opportunity to extend our services to neighbouring municipalities. The municipality of Delft and Leidschendam-Voorburg, Rijswijk, and Wassenaar started to employ our services in 2013, 2014, and 2016, respectively.

With the neighbouring municipalities in our portfolio, we saw the need to operate under a different branding, and received permission from the Municipality of The Hague to do so. Thus in 2018, our branding as you know now was launched, together with a new website and online registration tool, and our social media channels.

Riding on this momentum, we launched our partnership programme and CONNECT events in 2019, and created a welcome guide filled with essential information for newcomers in the region. Last year, we achieved a record of almost 5,000 registrations of internationals in the region. The community is still growing despite the coronavirus crisis – albeit at a slower rate – and we continue to inform and engage them through our events, newsletter, and social media channels.

 

Still a reason to celebrate

2020 changed our plans, as it has for many. Though we cannot celebrate our success the way we have planned, we are certainly thankful for all the support we have received. And we want to show our appreciation, nonetheless. We have a mini online campaign lined up and we will share more about this in November.