Coronavirus also hurting hospitality industry in Rotterdam, Noord-Brabant

The Rotterdam skyline
The Rotterdam skyline in 2017Photo: Violin/DepositPhotos

The national association for the hospitality industry in the Netherlands KHN is concerned about the impact the coronavirus Covid-19 is having. The number of cancellations is increasing nationwide, and the occupancy rate of hotels is falling. "There is no panic in the hotel industry, but there are hot pockets: Noord-Brabant, Rotterdam and Amsterdam are having a harder time," KHN director Dirk Beljaarts said to NOS. 

In Amsterdam, the number of bookings in hotels has fallen 30 percent. "We've had crises before in which fear caused people to stay home, but this one is really terrible," Nico Evers, hotelier in Amsterdam and vice president of KHN said to to the broadcaster. "The Amsterdam stock exchange is a bloodbath and with us it is no different."

The situation looks similar in Rotterdam, Roel Dusseldrop, general manager of Hotel New York and chairman of the regional interest group said. "We currently handle more phone calls about cancellations than we accept new reservations," he said to the broadcaster. "We managed to get through the financial crisis well over then years ago. Now we really feel the blow. Normally we run at 75 percent in March, now that is only 50 percent."

Because Dusseldorp doesn't see the situation changing int he coming six weeks, he is now requesting a reduction in working time for his employees. "This is one of the things you can do as a company, in addition to looking carefully at schedules and asking people to take vacation days." But layoffs can't be ruled out, he added. "Workers with probationary periods started at the wrong time. That is very unfortunate." 

The Noord-Brabant hospitality industry noticed a real change after Prime Minster Mark Rutte called on people to stop shaking hands and the province called on residents to work from home as much as possible, Tilburg-based hospitality entrepreneur Tim Wijdemans said to NOS. "Companies are now really taking measures. They are canceling existing bookings and there are few new bookings. A week ago we as an industry thought it was not so bad, I now see that it is not over yet."

Noord-Brabant is the province hardest hit by Covid-19 infections. As of Tuesday, 157 residents of the province were diagnosed with the virus, out of a total 382 in the Netherlands. On Tuesday evening the mayors of the province's largest cities Den Bosch, Eindhoven and Tilburg announced that they are canceling all events with a thousand attendees or more for the coming period, in order to curb the spread of the virus. They also called on residents to refrain from social interactions for the next week.

Mayor Jack Mikkers of Den Bosch told Nieuwsuur that he and his two colleagues were striving for a "balance" - curbing the spread of Covid-19 on the one hand, while still allowing the Noord-Brabant economy to run as much as possible. Even more far-reaching measures may need to be taken in the future, he added, saying that they could conceivably shut down every business where the public gathers to control the spread of the coronavirus. 

The virus is also affecting tourist attractions throughout the Netherlands, according to a survey by Hart van Nederland. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam saw around 15 percent of its group bookings canceled over the past weeks. The Anne Frank House in the capital saw its no-shows increase from the usual around 6 percent of bought tickets, to 16 percent. The Maruitshuis in Den Haag and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam noticed an increase in cancelations, especially in group bookings.