MPs call Dutch gov't to reduce tourism strain

Tourists at a tulip field
Tourists at a tulip fieldPhoto: FamVeldman/DepositPhotos

Millions of tourists visit the Netherlands every year and this number only continues to grow. The government must do more to address the problems caused by tourism and reduce its strain on popular Dutch destinations, a majority of the parties in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, said to NOS op 3.

Last year 19 million tourists stayed in the Netherlands. By 2030, that number is expected to grow to at least 28 million. If the current growth in the tourism sector continues, the number of people holidaying in the Netherlands may reach 42 million in 2030. That is a whole lot of income. But it also has it disadvantages - areas such as Amsterdam's Red Light District and the Zaanse Schans are overcrowded with tourists, for example. 

A majority in the Tweedde Kamer wants the government to take action. "You see that there are a lot of tourists in a number of places in the Netherlands. Then there are other regions that would like a lot more tourists. But there is no central policy", SP parliamentarian Frank Futselaar said to NOS. CDA parliamentarian Maurits von Martels was shocked when he learned that the Ministry has only two full time workers on the leisure economy. "That's far too little of course", he said to the broadcaster. "There has been far too little attention for it." The VVD, D66 and PvdA also called for more attention for tourism at a national level.

In addition to the handful of civil servants working on tourism at the central government, the Netherlands office for tourism and congresses NBTC is the main service focused on this sector. For a long time this organization's focus was on attracting more tourists to the Netherlands. Now it is focusing on spreading tourists throughout the country, so they don't just visit hotspots like Amsterdam, the Zaanse Schans or Giethoorn.

The NBTC receives 8.5 million euros in subsidies annually. It is also half funded by parties in the market. But this raised concerns of conflicts of interest. State Secretary Mona Keijzer of Economic Affairs therefore decided to adjust the rules so that the NBTC is less dependent on external parties and their demands in the future, she said to NOS.