Sharp drop in tourism value added after record year 2019

© Hollandse Hoogte / ANP
In the first six months of 2020, the gross value added of key industries in the tourism sector was approximately 45 percent lower than in the same period in 2019, according to provisional figures. The number of jobs declined as well but less rapidly. 2019 was still a record year for the tourism sector, which contributed nearly 32 billion euros in value added and 813 thousand jobs to the economy. This is evident from annual research conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) at the request of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, supplemented by provisional figures for 2020 from other CBS sources.

The annual tourism accounts provide insight into the economic importance of the tourism sector, in this case for 2019. There is no complete picture yet of the first half year in 2020; however, the developments of value added and employment in several industries over the first half year were studied in view of the coronavirus crisis. These are industries which depend almost entirely on tourism. They include aviation, accommodation and food services, travel services, and culture, recreation and sports, together accounting for over 70 percent of the tourism GDP of 32 billion euros in 2019.

According to a provisional calculation, in the first half of this year the value added of these tourism industries dropped by around 45 percent relative to the same period last year. The sharpest decline was seen in aviation and travel services combined: by over 55 percent, while accommodation and food services fell by nearly 45 percent. In the first half of 2020, the number of overnight guests in tourist accommodations was more than 50 percent down on the same period last year. The value added of culture, recreation and sports combined decreased by over 35 percent.

Value added in tourism industries, first half of 2020*
BedrijfstakValue added (year-on-year % change)
travel services
Accommodation and food services-43
Culture, recreation,
other services
* provisional estimate

The impact of the crisis on the number of jobs and employed persons during the first six months was less severe than on the value added. Due to the Temporary Emergency Measure for the Preservation of Jobs (NOW), employees could still receive their wages despite the loss of turnover. This resulted in fewer job losses. Nevertheless, some of the greatest job losses were recorded in the key tourism industries.

Value added in tourism sector 5 percent up in 2019

In 2019, the value added of the tourism sector still increased compared to the previous year, ending at 31.8 billion euros, a year-on-year increase of 5.0 percent. Adjusted for price changes, the increase was 2.9 percent. The Dutch economy as a whole grew by 1.7 percent last year. The tourism sector held a share of 4.4 percent in the Dutch economy.

Value added of tourism by industry, 2019*
BedrijfstakValue added of tourism
Accommodation and food services12.54
Aviation, travel services7.61
Art and culture and hobby clubs1.70
Sports, recreation and gambling2.81
Other industries7.13
*provisional figures

Foreign tourism grew faster than domestic tourism

In 2019, tourism expenditure in the Netherlands amounted to 91.2 billion euros, up by 5.4 percent on the previous year. Adjusted for price changes, this was 2.9 percent. Last year’s growth in tourism expenditure was attributable to higher spending by both foreign and domestic tourists. Foreign visitors spent a total of 34.7 billion euros, while domestic tourism accounted for 53.2 billion euros.

In 2019, Dutch tourists spent 4.0 percent more on holidays and day trips within their own country, totalling 46.6 billion euros. They spent more on food and beverages at hotels, restaurants and cafés, but also on fuel, sports and leisure activities. In addition, Dutch tourists travelling abroad spent over 6.6 billion euros on accommodations and transport via Dutch travel companies.

At 7.8 percent, foreign visitor spending rose more rapidly than domestic tourism spending. This increase was partly due to a higher number of overnight stays by foreign visitors in Dutch tourist accommodations. Furthermore, again more foreign tourists booked their accommodations or (airline) tickets via Dutch travel companies, partly for destinations outside the Netherlands.

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

813 thousand jobs in tourism sector in 2019

In 2019, the number of jobs in the Dutch tourism sector rose by 3.3 percent to 813 thousand, i.e. 7.5 percent of the total number of jobs in the Netherlands. When converted to full-time jobs (labour years), the sector accounted for 498 thousand jobs. This is 6.4 percent of the total number of labour years in the Dutch economy. Nearly half of the labour years in the tourism sector were in the sector accommodation and food services, while over one-quarter were found in aviation and travel services.

Employment in the tourism sector
JaarJobs (x 1,000)Full-time jobs (x 1,000)
*provisional figures