Best case scenario: tourists to Amsterdam around half of 2019 peak this year

Streets empty of tourists during a lockdown Photo:

Amsterdam expects tourist numbers this year to be around half of the levels in 2019 and, in the worst-case scenario, to drop by more than two-thirds.

The capital’s statistical analysis service, the OIS, reveals that at best it expects 45% fewer visitors to turn up this year. However, the results could vary wildly depending on international travel policy and vaccination programmes.

In 2019, the peak of tourism and of reports of tourist nuisance, almost 22 million day trippers and overnight visitors came to Amsterdam. These numbers, says the OIS, exclude students, commuters and people visiting family.

But after the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, only eight million people visited Amsterdam as tourists, a drop of 61% on the year before. Day trippers fell by 55%, while overnight and foreign tourist numbers dropped by around two thirds.

The statistics service has created three different models to predict how many people will come to Amsterdam this year, depending on the Dutch vaccination programme, lock down measures and lower risk worldwide. At best, numbers will be some 11.8 million (a drop of 45% on 2019) and at worst, 7 million will still visit Amsterdam (a 68% fall on the peak year). Maximum numbers, especially for hotels, are expected in July.

Victor Everhardt, head of economic affairs for the city council, said in a letter to councillors that measures to attract visits have been ‘intensified’, with a plan to encourage conference booking and an ‘inspiration and activation campaign’ from amsterdam&partners.

‘The aim of this campaign is to highlight Amsterdam’s unique offering in terms of arts and culture, food, stays and attractions in well-known and unknown places,’ he wrote.

When government support measures for businesses are phased out later this year, it will become clear how much impact the pandemic will have on the tourist industry. Already, earlier this week, erotic product chain Christine le Duc announced that five sex shops in Amsterdam’s red light district would be closing, while another sex shop owner was reportedly declared bankrupt.

Heleen Jansen, a spokeswoman for amsterdam&partners said that tourist businesses and cultural institutions have been extremely hard hit, with hotel occupancy at 11% in March and restaurants closed since mid-October. ‘This is an important sector and 11% of all jobs in Amsterdam are related to tourism,’ she said. ‘Visitors are also part of the city’s international character and in the past decades have created a lot of jobs, income, good-quality bars and restaurants, a diverse cultural offering and an affordable public transport system.’

She added that as soon as the health situation allows, the body will start its campaign to encourage foreign visitors to take a cultural trip to Amsterdam, to ‘contribute to the sector’s recovery’.

Vera Al, a spokeswoman for Amsterdam city council’s economic affairs department, said: ‘These numbers are not surprising, considering we are already at the end of April and still in a lockdown. The situation is urgent and the economic impact for the sector is huge.’

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