Thursday 18 August 2022

Covid, flu, energy crisis are keeping venues half empty: Parool

Photo: Alex Nicholls-Lee

The Netherlands has abandoned its coronavirus measures but visitor numbers at theatres, museums and concert halls in Amsterdam are far from back to pre-pandemic levels, the Parool has found

Part of the slump is still attributable to the fear of catching coronavirus, the venues say. ‘There is a group of mainly older people who are still wary,’ a Concertgebouw spokesman told the paper. The concert hall currently fills some 65% of seats, compared with 85% before the pandemic struck.

The lack of visitors from outside Europe because of continuing coronavirus restrictions on travel is particularly noticeable at museums. The war in Ukraine is also keeping tourists away, a spokeswoman for the Stedelijk Museum, which depends on foreign tourism for half of its revenue, said.

Visitor numbers at the Van Gogh museum, popular among visitors from Japan, China and Southeast Asia, are down 50% compared to 2019 while the Rijksmuseum is on 40% capacity. Half the museum’s visitors are Dutch, a spokesman said.

The current flu epidemic is another reason why numbers are low. March was also unseasonably sunny and people preferred cafe terraces to the museums.

The cost of living has also gone up in recent months because of the energy crisis and that is forcing people to make choices.

Meervaart theatre director Yassine Boussaid, who has lowered entry prices to €10, said he thinks Amsterdammers are keen to go out again but that restaurants are probably higher on the priority list than a night at the theatre.

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