Fewer Chinese visit Amsterdam, but tourist numbers are still rising

Chinese tourists in Volendam. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Chinese tourists were always a given in Amsterdam: they came in increasing numbers every year and spent increasingly more money. The number of overnight stays by Chinese tourists increased by 28% last year to 245,000 and in six years the number has doubled, the Parool wrote on Thursday.

But things are changing. ‘We see 10% to 20% fewer Chinese tourists in our shop,’   Benno Leeser, director of Gassan Diamonds told the paper.

His comment is backed by the national statistics office CBS as well as by ABN Amro bank which estimated a 3% decline in Asian tourists. The CBS says Chinese visitor numbers dropped by 9% to 64,000 in the first four months of 2018.

Nevertheless, the CBS said tourist overnight stays in Amsterdam rose by 6.6% to more than five million in the first four months of this year.

Global Blue, the company which pays VAT refunds to non-EU visitors, said Chinese purchases have been down by 8% this year after tumbling 4% in full-year 2017.

But Jorn Hoogesteijn, Global Blue’s Benelux director ascribes this to lower spending by Chinese visitors, not fewer tourists. ‘They no longer go directly to a diamond shop, but opt instead for the specialised offerings in the Negen Straatjes district,’  he said, adding that ‘Amsterdam is more expensive.’

Spending patterns

ABN Amro economists Sonny Duijn who tracks tourism said Chinese millennials had a different spending pattern from their elders. They travelled individually, rarely in large groups organised by tour operators and spent less, Duijn said.

There was a 16% increase in the number of Dutch tourists spending a night in Amsterdam in the first months of the year. The 896,000 Dutch staying overnight were apparently not put off by rumours of an overfull city.

The number of overnight stays by the French rose by 17%,  Spain was 22% higher while Belgium and Germany each registered 6% growth. The number of US visitors was 7% higher.

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