As holiday restrictions relax, tourist numbers to NL are set to drop 60% this year
The Dutch tourist board NBTC expects the number of foreign visitors to the Netherlands this year to be down 60% on 2019, as the country slowly opens up to tourists and other visitors from June 15.
From June 15, tourists from a number of European countries are being welcomed back, including from Germany, Belgium and Italy. The borders will be opened to most other European tourists from July, but British and Swedish tourists will not yet be allowed in, because of the risk they may bring in coronavirus.
Tourists are also warned they must book accommodation in advance, or risk being turned back at the border.
‘The tourist sector will be very hard hit by the coronavirus crisis, despite the relaxation of the rules,’ NBTC chairman Jos Vranken said. ‘So alongside support measures, we are also working on a recovery plan, including an information campaign.’
Some 40% of foreign tourists to the Netherlands come from Germany and Belgium.
Prime minister Mark Rutte outlined the easing of holiday restrictions on Wednesday night, but warned Dutch holidaymakers who head abroad that they will be responsible for their own actions.
Travel advice for 12 EU countries and the former Dutch Caribbean islands will switch from amber to yellow on June 15, while the rest will follow in June. The UK, Sweden and Denmark will remain on amber.
‘Be sensible,’ he said. ‘And make sure that you know the rules in the country you are visiting.’
Airlines Transavia, KLM and Easyjet had already said they plan to start ramping up flights ahead of the start of the Dutch school holidays. Transavia, which is now operating 23 flights a week hopes to increase that to 175 by the end of the month, and flights will also resume from Rotterdam and Eindhoven airports.
KLM also plans to extend its services to cover southern European countries from July 1 while Easyjet will resume services from Schiphol airport the same date.
But holiday companies are warning that many people are still reluctant to go abroad. Fear of coronavirus is one issue, but they also ‘can’t be bothered’ with all a holiday full of restrictions, Frank Oostdam, of travel agents umbrella group ANVR, told broadcaster NOS.
Meanwhile, the first foreign tourists have already been spotted in Amsterdam. A group of four young Germans, spotted on the Dam in the centre of the city, told the Parool they were on a day trip from Dortmund.
‘Being too busy is not great but it is very quiet,’ one said. ‘The restaurants are open so you can eat, but you can’t visit a museum because you have to reserve in advance. So we are just walking around the city.’
The Netherlands’ borders remain officially closed to all but essential travellers from outside the EU.
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