After 2 years of a pause due to the pandemic, the Netherlands is experiencing its first tourist season

Forecasts for tourism recovery in 2022 have been very moderate. However, with the removal of all entry and movement restrictions in the Netherlands, tourists are enthusiastic about the opportunity to enjoy travel again. And it shows in the numbers! According to the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics, in April the number of overnight stays of foreign tourists reached more than 90% of the pre-COVID year. The neighbours were predictably the most active travellers: in mid-spring, the number of Germans staying overnight exceeded the statistics of 2019, followed by the Belgians with slightly more modest figures.

Hotels were hit the hardest by the coronavirus crisis, but according to STR Global, the same market has recovered faster in recent months compared to other European countries. We are happy for the Amsterdam hotels, which by the end of spring returned not only to the number of guests they used to, but also the prices (to the chagrin of travellers). It is interesting that the period of stagnation had a positive effect on the level of service: after several check-tours, the Agnum team was pleasantly surprised by positive changes in this direction. It is no secret that the popularity of a tourist destination often negatively affects the service. However, the pandemic period has shown that even such leading cities in the tourism market as Amsterdam are ready to revise the standards and opt for quality rather than chasing quantity. Perhaps, we have never seen such an improvement in the service before, thanks to which we have expanded the list of the best locations for our customers.

It is worth noting that the choice of quality in favour of quantity took place literally at the state level. Thus, the mayor of the capital of the Netherlands, Femke Halsema, in an interview with Bloomberg, shared her plans to reduce the tourist load on Amsterdam, as well as to change the image of the city. “We want tourists to come to us for the beauty of the city, the museums and underground nightlife culture, not for immoral vacations,” says Halsema. And, by the way, she has been working in this direction since 2018. She submitted 4 scenarios for changing the Red-Light District to the City Council for consideration, and the winning one envisages the creation of an aesthetically beautiful erotic centre in Moulin Rouge style away from the centre. As a company promoting the Netherlands from a different side than the “European Hangover” scenario, we are excited about this idea. However, at the moment the plan is put on hold due to the lack of land for the corresponding project.
However, the changes in the capital are already visible right now. For example, taking advantage of the lockdown, the city authorities cleared the centre of Chinese souvenir shops, instead, those places were occupied by food stalls and beautiful boutiques. And new regulations for renting housing through the Airbnb platform, which were introduced a little earlier, returned local residents to the city centre, who were forced out by noisy guests of the capital for years. It became easier to breathe and move, admiring architecture.

Another request of the mayor was a temporary ban on access to coffee shops for tourists, which will be discussed by the City Council in September. However, Halsema herself does not believe in the success of this idea, since many tourists are still attracted by the decriminalization of cannabis, and not by museums and theatres. According to Charles Droste, director of the Doetinchem Theater, people are too busy catching up on more social events that have been out of reach for Europeans for almost 2 years. In particular, festivals and parties, which are currently in their high season. And if in 2019, according to information provided by the Museums Association, a third of museum visitors were tourists, then the current number of visitors reflects the slowdown in tourism in 2022. However, this is good news for those who decided to take a vacation in the Netherlands - a rare chance to enjoy the cultural heritage of the country without queues and stampedes. Recommended!
Who are experiencing a real heyday - cafes, bars and restaurants. Already in the first quarter of 2022, the turnover in the catering sector was 92.2 percent higher than in the same quarter of 2021. High inflation, an increase in the cost of electricity and gas, an increase in purchase prices and an acute personnel crisis led to an increase in the cost of a check by 10%. But we tired of homemade dinners, do not stop going to cafes and restaurants, so entrepreneurs compete in the creativity of new establishments and the quality of products. So, at the end of May, the Michelin Stars ceremony was attended by chefs of 117 Dutch restaurants. Several of them are newcomers, which we managed to visit. And unlike the Michelin-starred restaurants in Japan or Switzerland, the Dutch are still accessible to the middle class.

We, entrepreneurs from the tourism sector, already look more confidently into the future and are ready to meet the new business season with new ideas for any tours, for any request.

See you in the Netherlands!