Foreign travellers spent 17 billion euros in 2019

© CBS / Nikki van Toorn
In 2019, foreign tourists and business travellers spent over 17 billion euros on goods and services during their stay in or visit to the Netherlands. One-third of this amount was business-related. Vice versa, Dutch holidaymakers, day trippers and business travellers spent around 20 billion euros on goods and services abroad, of which 87 percent were private travel expenses. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of new international trade figures.

The coronavirus outbreak is affecting large parts of the Dutch economy, including the travel and tourism industry. It goes without saying that the effects of measures taken by several countries against the coronavirus are not yet noticeable in the figures over 2019.

Travel and travel expenditure strongly focused on Europe

The Netherlands’ service trade is primarily focused on countries within Europe and this also applies to the travelling sector. Almost 88 percent of foreign travellers’ spending in the Netherlands comes from Europeans. In turn, Dutch travellers spend more than three-quarters of their travel expenditure at a European destination.

The bulk of travel expenditure in the Netherlands in 2019 was on account of travellers from Germany; the top ten nationalities with the highest expenditures includes mainly Europeans. Exceptions are the United States (ranking fifth) and China (ranking ninth). Last year, spending on goods and services by tourists and business travellers from the top ten countries amounted to 14.4 billion euros.

Expenditure by foreigner travellers in the Netherlands is increasing each year; since 2014, it has gone up by more than 56 percent. Spending by travellers from the top ten countries grew compared to 2018. For example, in 2019 both US and British travellers spent nearly 14 percent more in the Netherlands than in the previous year.

Foreign visitor expenditure by country of origin, 2019
LandShare of inbound travel (% of total)
United Kingdom8.6
United States4.6
Other countries17.0

Dutch travellers spending most in Germany

Just as in previous years, Germany was the country with the highest travel spending by Dutch visitors in 2019. The top ten countries where Dutch visitors spent most on goods and services during their stay or visit in 2019 are almost all in Europe. The only exception is the United States (ranking fifth).

For years, the amounts spent by Dutch holidaymakers abroad have risen steadily, both for personal and business purposes. Expenditure at destinations further away has increased more rapidly than expenditure during a stay or visit within Europe.

Outbound travel and tourism expenditure by destination country, 2019
LandShare of outbound travel expenditure (% of total)
United States5.9
United Kingdom4.5
Other countries30.4

In the first quarter of 2020, several countries which are important to the Netherlands for inbound and outbound travel have been hit hard as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Last year, these countries - in Europe, Asia and North America - accounted for a large part of Dutch incoming travel expenses. Furthermore, travel expenses coming in from these countries have increased in recent years, particularly from more remote countries (such as China and the United States).

International travel important for Dutch service trade

In 2019, travel was among the five most important types of services of the entire sector. It accounted for more than 7 percent of Dutch service exports (17 billion euros) and 9 percent of Dutch service imports (20 billion euros).

In addition to travel, the other service types most important for Dutch exports include business services, intellectual property (royalties), transport services, and telecommunication and computer services. These five service types combined account for as much as 89.0 percent of total service exports. The same service types dominate Dutch imports, representing a collective share of 88.9 percent.

International service trade, 2019
Dienst Exports (% of total)Imports (% of total)
Business services29.932.5
Use of intellectual property24.726.6
Transport services16.313.0
Telecommunication and computer services10.77.7
Industrial services3.12.7
Financial services3.14.4
Construction services1.51.3
Maintenance and repair1.11.0
Personal, cultural, recreational0.91.3
Public services0.80.1
Insurance services0.50.3

Value of Dutch service trade increasing

Not only travel increased in value, but also the service trade sector as a whole. The value of total Dutch service exports amounted to 234.2 billion euros in 2019, versus 217.9 billion euros in service imports. Exports grew more rapidly than imports. Dutch service exports grew by approximately 9 percent while service imports were up by nearly 4 percent year-on-year. Both service exports and imports reached their highest level on record in 2019.

Service imports and exports
JaarExports (bn euros)Imports (bn euros)