Tourist numbers won’t recover this year as war and coronavirus impact holiday plans

Tourists in the village on Winsum last summer. Photo:
Tourists in the village on Winsum last summer. Photo:

Easter is traditionally the start of the Dutch tourist season but although more will come to the Netherlands this year than in 2021, numbers will be well below the 2019 record, according to Dutch tourist board figures.

Inflation, the war in Ukraine and the risk of a new coronavirus wave are all having an impact on projections and holiday plans, the NBTC says.

This year Dutch holidaymakers are once again going abroad, after two years of holidaying at home. The number of staycations this year is set to go down 7% compared with 2021, NBTC director Jos Vranken told the Parool.

But fewer German visitors are likely to come to the Netherlands this year than in the pre coronavirus era, and they are traditionally the biggest tourist group, Vranken said.

Fewer American tourists are also on their way and research shows that the fear of coronavirus remains a major reason not to travel, he said. ‘That surprised us, but the proliferation of coronavirus and the limits on travel are a more important reason [for Americans] not to come to the Netherlands than the war,’ he told the paper.

12 million

The NBTC estimates no more than 12 million foreign and 24 million Dutch tourists will spend at least one night away from home in the Netherlands this year, compared with almost 46 million in 2019.

But that does not mean that the ongoing discussion about there being too many tourists will disappear, he told the paper. ‘The tolerance limit has clearly gone down over the past two years and we are used to empty parks and squares,’ he said. ‘There is a negative view of tourism.’

Amsterdam remains the biggest tourist draw in the Netherlands, attracting 21.5 million visitors in 2019, and forcing the city council into taking measures to reduce the number of youngsters coming to smoke marijuana, in particular.

ABN Amro has forecast that international tourist numbers will not fully recover until 2024, and says this is bad news for hotels and attractions which focus on tourists.

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