Tourists spent €87.5 billion in 2018

© Nikki van Toorn
Last year, tourism expenditure in the Netherlands amounted to 87.5 billion euros, up by 6.4 percent on the previous year. When adjusted for price changes, this represents a growth rate of 4.1 percent. Employment in the tourism sector increased by 27 thousand to 791 thousand jobs. This is evident from a survey conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The growth in tourism expenditure is attributable to both residents and foreign tourists in the Netherlands. In 2018, domestic tourism spending stood at 51.9 billion euros in total, up 2.7 billion on the previous year. Foreign tourism spending increased by 2.5 billion to 32.5 billion euros.

Tourism expenditure
JaarForeign tourism (bn euros)Domestic tourism, domestic destination (bn euros)Domestic expenditure, foreign destination (bn euros)Other expenditure (bn euros)
*provisional figures

Growth in domestic tourism

Dutch tourists spent 5.5 percent more on holiday trips within their own country. Last year’s growth in domestic tourism was primarily due to even warmer summer weather than in 2017, with warm weather conditions lasting longer as well. Dutch holidaymakers mainly spent more on food and beverages at hotels, restaurants and cafés, but they also spent more on items such as fuel, sports and leisure activities. In addition, a number of Dutch tourists travelling abroad arranged their accommodation and transport via Dutch travel companies; this type of (domestic) tourism spending rose by 5.9 percent in 2018 to a total of 6.6 billion euros relative to 2017.

Growth in foreign tourism

At 8.2 percent, foreign visitor spending rose more rapidly than domestic tourism spending. The increase was partly due to a higher number of nights spent by foreign visitors in Dutch tourist accommodations. In addition, more foreign tourists also booked their accommodations or (flight) tickets via a Dutch travel company. Although many of them did not actually travel to the Netherlands, Dutch companies did benefit financially from these bookings.

Value added in tourism sector at 4.4 percent of GDP

The importance of tourism to the Dutch economy continues to grow. Due to the increase in the sector’s value added, the share of tourism in the Dutch economy increased by 0.1 percentage point to 4.4 percent in 2018.

In 2018, the value added in the tourism sector amounted to 30.4 billion euros. This is a 7.1 percent increase relative to 2017. Adjusted for price changes, the increase was 5.0 percent while the Dutch economy grew by 2.6 percent in 2018. The sector accommodation and food services contributed the highest share with over 12 billion euros in value added in the tourism sector last year.

Value added of tourism by industry, 2018*
BedrijfstakValue added
Accommodation and food services12.029
Aviation, tour operators and travel agencies7.054
Sports, recreation and gambling industry2.731
Arts, culture and hobby clubs1.705
Other industries6.923
*provisional figures

Employment in tourism sector continues to grow

The number of jobs in the Dutch tourism sector rose by 3.6 percent to 791 thousand in 2018. The share of the sector in the total number of jobs went up to 7.5 percent.

Employment in the tourism sector
JaarJobs (x 1,000)Labour years (x 1,000)
*provisional figures

A large number of jobs in the tourism sector are part-time. When converted to full-time (labour years), the sector accounted for 474 thousand jobs in 2018. This is 6.3 percent of the total number of labour years in the Dutch economy. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of labour years in the tourism sector rose by 3.8 percent. This was 2.6 percent for the Dutch economy as a whole. Nearly half of the labour years in the tourism sector were in the sector accommodation and food services, while one-quarter were found in aviation, travel agencies, arts and culture, sports, leisure and gambling. A small number were found in industries such as retail trade, public transport and taxi services.

Employment in tourism (in labour years) by industry, 2018*
BedrijfstakLabour years
Accommodation and food services232
Aviation, tour operators and travel agencies33
Sports, recreation and gambling industry45
Arts, culture and hobby clubs37
Other industries127
*provisional figures