National and international tourism booming

© Hollandse Hoogte / Bert Verhoeff
International tourism has grown each year following the 2008 global economic and financial crisis, at an average rate of 4.8 percent. In line with this upward trend, the Netherlands has received increasing flows of foreign tourists since 2010. This is shown by figures published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Statistics Netherlands (CBS), which have been combined in the 2017 Trend Report on Tourism, Recreation and Leisure (Dutch only).
The year 2016 was the seventh consecutive year of growth in international tourist arrivals worldwide following the crisis in 2008-2009. A 3.9 percent increase in 2016 brought the total number of international tourist arrivals to over 1.2 billion. The strongest growth – over 8 percent – was recorded in the Africa and Asia and the Pacific regions.
International tourist arrivals worldwide
 International tourist arrivals worldwide

Mixed picture in Europe

Last year’s growth in foreign visitor arrivals was unevenly distributed across Europe, with some parts receiving more and other parts receiving fewer tourists. International research has shown that travellers are avoiding countries with a great deal of political unrest or recently committed terrorist attacks. In 2016, the number of foreign tourist arrivals increased in Europe by 2.4 percent overall; northern Europe (6.1 percent) as well as central and eastern Europe (3.7 percent) in particular benefited from this growth, whereas western Europe did not record any growth in tourism (0 percent). Tourism in the EU-28 grew by 4.6 percent on average in 2016.

Tourism growing faster in the Netherlands than in EU-28

With an increase of 5.5 percent, the Netherlands achieved faster than average growth in foreign tourist arrivals last year compared to the rest of western Europe. The number of foreign tourists staying in Dutch overnight accommodations last year reached 15.8 million. Growth was also considerably higher than average in 2014 and 2015 compared to both the rest of the EU-28 and the rest of the world. In 2016, this growth was mainly due to tourist arrivals from neighbouring countries including Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium. Of all foreign tourists visiting the Netherlands in 2016, 76 percent where European. The remainder primarily included more tourists from North, Central and South America (9.2 percent). There were fewer tourist arrivals from Asia in 2016 at 2.4 percent.

Inbound tourism
 WorldEU-28the Netherlands
2016-2017 (Jan-Aug)6.67.713.1

13 percent more foreign tourists in first 8 months of 2017

The advance of global international tourism continued unabated in the first eight months of 2017 with an increase in inbound tourism of 6.6 percent year-on-year. Destinations recently affected by the aftermath of terrorist attacks showed recovery. For example, France recorded 7.5 percent growth in inbound tourism in the first eight months of this year, after it had suffered a 2.2 percent decline in 2016; overall growth in foreign tourism around the EU-28 amounted to 7.7 percent.
At the same time, the Netherlands surpassed the European growth rate again this year, with nearly 12.4 million foreign guests staying in Dutch overnight accommodation, up 13.1 percent year-on-year. There were 900 thousand Asian overnight guests, i.e. a growth rate of no less than 25.6 percent year-on-year. German tourist arrivals surged as well in the first eight months of 2017, increasing by 15.7 percent to a total of almost 3.8 million guests.

Third-largest export product worldwide

The increasing numbers of inbound tourists and their expenditure worldwide have lent growing impact to tourism as an economic sector. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) estimate the contribution of revenues in the global travel and tourism industry to the economy at 1,102 billion euros. In 2016, global tourism occupied a share of around 30 percent in the value of global services exports, equivalent to 7 percent of the world’s gross total value of exports. This makes tourism the third-largest export product worldwide after fuel (gas, oil) and chemical products, ranking higher than food exports.

Revenues in the global travel and tourism industry

Over half a million tourism jobs in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, too, the tourism sector recorded faster growth than the overall economy. This has boosted the share of the tourism sector in total value added from 3.0 percent in 2010 to 3.9 percent in 2016. The number of persons working in the tourism sector was 542 thousand in 2016, equivalent to 389 thousand full-time jobs. Their share in total employment (FTE units) rose by 0.1 percentage point to 5.5 percent in 2016.