Tourism Industry in Amsterdam
According to recent publications by the Amsterdam Marketing Research Department and the Dutch Agency for Statistics, last year, 2015, Amsterdam counted 17 million visitors. A large part of them were international visitors. This number, by the way, is equivalent to the entire population of The Netherlands. They generated a total of 139 million days of visit during which they spent on average €100 per person per day (accommodation expenses excluded).
These data are based on metrics such as hotel bookings, incoming foreign passengers at Schiphol Airport and numbers of visitors at important museums and attractions in Amsterdam.
The tourism sector has become increasingly important in the Dutch economy. In 2015, more than 500.000 individuals had a full-time employment in the tourism industry. That is over 5% of the total full-time employments in the country’s labor market.
More than half of the tourists visiting the Netherlands come from the following seven countries: USA, UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Spain. They derive primarily from the capitals and big cities and areas of high accessibility and buying power.
Sometimes the aim of the visit is for business or congress attendance. In other cases it’s for leisure. It can also be a combination of both. Many tourists declare to be attracted to the city’s charm and beauty. They find the locals very welcoming and friendly. They are very much satisfied by the cultural offer. Even if many tourists find Amsterdam to be a relatively expensive city and they tend to be overwhelmed by the many bikes that are ridden around by rather reckless cyclists without helmets(!), the average grade they gave Amsterdam in 2015 was 8,5 on a 1-10 scale. This has been the highest grade the city has received since 2001. This was the year in which the Amsterdam Visitors Research Survey was launched.
Amsterdam truly is magnificent. It has one of the world’s largest historical centers. It was luckily not bombed and destroyed during five years of Nazi occupation (1940-1945). The 17th century well preserved canals and the quaint houses lining up along them, beautifully display the city’s picturesque character. Amsterdam’s wonderful historic heritage is perfectly complemented by well performed works of maintenance and renovation in key public spaces.
The Rijksmuseum was reopened 3 years ago after a 10 year massive refurbishment for the cost of €370 million Euros. It is impressive in its presentation. The Van Gogh Museum has got a wholly new, modern, advanced and aesthetically outstanding entrance. There’s a quite different feel to the renovated Central Station with its new shops covered by the round glass roof overlooking the IJ waters.
These initiatives of remodeling and refurbishment are an attempt to chart Amsterdam as one of Europe’s five most attractive capitals.
Indeed, the influx of tourists into the city has significantly increased in recent years.
Naturally, local entrepreneurs respond to this trend. Currently, there are more than 200 tourism related businesses in Amsterdam’s city center. All within a territory of less than 4 km² or 2,5 square miles. These vary from souvenir shops, to cheese shops, ice cream parlors, bike rental stores, pancakes- and French fries stands, canal boat – and bus excursion companies.
Quite a few locals, both residents and members of the city council, complain about this proliferation. They are concerned about the lack of diversity in commercial offer in Amsterdam’s city center. They are bothered by the nuisance that this overabundance of shops causes.
These enterprises significantly boost the local economy. However, the screaming colors of their banners and logos are liable to detract from the city’s elegance and charm.
Moreover, leading companies have pretty much monopolized the scene. One company, for instance, has dominated the tourist excursions business in Amsterdam for over two decades. Its double-decker buses, stuffed with ninety people of at least twelve different languages, drive around the city. They also go to the windmills at Zaanse Schans, the fishermen’s villages Volendam and Marken and the flower fields. This party arranges also excursions to cities as The Hague, Delft, Rotterdam, Bruges, Gent and Brussels. It employs over one hundred poorly paid individuals. With an annual turnover exceeding €10 million Euros and a yearly profit over €2,5 million Euros, it seems to be unrivalled and invincible.
In the past years, luckily, small businesses have been able to expose themselves for free, to a wide potential clientele on the internet. Not only can they make use of search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Also at their disposal is the exquisite platform of TripAdvisor. It provides users generated reviews of travel related content which promote small companies or individual tour guides.
Hopefully we’ll continue to witness in the coming years this tendency toward a more sound distribution of business in Amsterdam’s tourism industry. Smaller parties can offer more personable and small scale services of increased quality and variety. Not only will this be for the benefit of tourists. It will also enhance the balance in the local economy. It will spread the numbers of tourists over more places in the city and its outskirts. Therefore it will relieve the strenuous impact of the increasing influx of tourists on the local population and the environment.