Dutch attractions overcrowded with tourists

Amsterdam city center

The Netherlands' major attractions are increasingly being flooded by international tourists, according to Dutch tourism office NBTC. The hotspots suffer under traffic jams, crowds and problems for residents. "The necessary distribution of tourists is stagnating", NBTC CEO Jos Vranken said to the Telegraaf.

Last year the Netherlands had 17.6 million foreign visitors, an 11 percent increase compared to the year before. This year NBTC expects more than 18.5 million international visitors, increasing to over 20 million by 2020. 

Over the past two years the NBTC has been using the "HollandCity strategy", which promotes the Netherlands as one big metropolis of cities, nature, and rural areas with short traveling distances between them. "Unfortunately the spreading is not well enough. The result is an overloading of popular locations in and around Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam. This also applies to villages such as Kinderdijk and Volendam. Increasingly it causes inconvenience for residents. The gap between the Randstad and the rest of the Netherlands is actually threatening to increase", Vranken said.

Much more needs to be done to spread tourists more evenly across the country, Vranken said. He calls for a new investment agenda and opportunities for regions to develop good tourism products that will meet the wishes of travelers. "Just marketing is no longer enough. A national fund is needed in cooperation with all parties involved. It is important to better manage and control the tourist flows", he said. "Because of the growing economy and cheap airline tickets, border crossing tourism is increasing everywhere. Certainly we benefit from that, with 13 billion euros in spending. Especially the catering and recreation sectors are happy with it. However, harmful side effects also increase."

Earlier this week State Secretary Mona Keijzer of Economic Affairs and climate sent a letter to parliament saying that the government is planning an "active spreading policy" so that tourists don't only visit the main attractions, NOS reports. The intention is to "tempt visitors to go to lesser-known places in our country". She will talk to the provinces about developing "attractive products" to strengthen the "regional identity" and to ensure that tourists can also "enjoy our beautiful landscapes, towns and villages.

According to Keijzer, this spreading of tourists is not only necessary to ensure the quality of life for residents of big cities, , but also so that more provinces can benefit economically from the crowds of tourists. Tourism creates around 641 thousand jobs in the Netherlands.