Netherlands hits hotel night record as tourism sees fastest growth in over ten years

11 April, 2018

The number of guests staying in overnight accommodation in the Netherlands rose to 42 million in 2017, according to latest figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS). This represents a year-over-year growth rate of nearly 9%, the strongest annual growth since 2006 and was primarily driven by an increasing number of foreign visitors, up 13% on the previous year.


  • The number of guests staying in overnight accommodation in the Netherlands rose 9% year-on-year to 42 million in 2017, its strongest annual growth since 2006;
  • Growth driven by a 13% rise in foreign visitors with 17.8 million foreign guests spending 44 million nights in Dutch overnight accommodation;
  • Domestic accommodation levels were positive at a 6% year-over-year growth in 2017 with 24.4 million guests spending 67.8 million nights;
  • Fast growing country markets include Taiwan (+79%), Iceland (+40%) and Russia (+36%).

In total 17.8 million foreign guests spent 44 million nights in Dutch overnight accommodation last year, according to the data, but while growing at a faster rate this remains smaller than the domestic market which numbered 24.4 million guests in 2017 (up +6%) who spent a collective 67.8 million nights (+2%) in the country.

Tourism is becoming an increasingly important driver of the Dutch economy. By the end of 2016, total tourist expenditure amounted to EUR75.7 billion or 3.9% of gross domestic product (GDP). The tourism industry employs around 640,000 people in the country.

The foreign arrivals are dominated by visitors from across Europe, which account for nearly 80% of which the majority are from just three nations – Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom – which together account for just under two thirds (64%) of all overnight stays by foreign guests. Germany is a key inbound market with year-over-year arrivals up +14% in 2017 with visitors also among the longest staying guests with an average 3.4 nights spent in the Netherlands.

Outside of Europe, arrivals from the Americas and Asia dominate with year-over-year growth of +22% and +25% in 2017. Fast growing country markets include Taiwan (+79%), Iceland (+40%) and Russia (+36%). The number of inbound tourists from China also increased by +26%. Guests from outside Europe were also the shortest staying group and on average only spent 1.8 nights in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam is the big pull for foreign visitors with 6.7 million foreign hotel guests visiting the city and positioning Noord-Holland as the only province with more foreign than domestic guests. Of all foreign guests, 37% visited Amsterdam.

The distribution of foreign guests over the various provinces of the Netherlands has barely changed since 2012 with various industry trends remaining. Germans like to stay on the Dutch coast and also visit Amsterdam relatively often. Belgians like to skip across the border to Limburg and Noord-Brabant but are also staying on the coast. The British mainly head for Amsterdam, as is also the case for most intercontinental visitors.

While geographic visitor trends remains similar, travelling habits are changing. The CBS data shows that Group accommodation and Hotels received 12% and 11% more guests year-over-year versus 2016. Holiday parks received +7% more guests, but campsites saw the negative trend of recent years continue with a decline by -3%.