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The Netherlands had record numbers of tourists in 201322 January 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
The Netherlands had a record number of visitors in 2013, with around 12,7 million tourists coming to the country, according to statistics from Netherlands tourism bureau NBTC.
The figure is a four per cent increase from 2012, and there was also a seven per cent increase in visitors' length of stay, with tourists spending 31,6 million nights in the country.
This is the second record year in a row for tourism, with the 11,7 visitors in 2012 setting the previous highest number.
International tourism to the Netherlands
As in previous years, the greatest number of tourists came from neighbouring countries. Nearly 3,5 million Germans came to the Netherlands in 2013, an increase of eight per cent, and there were also eight per cent more Belgian tourists; over 1,6 million.
The largest percentage increase in visitors, however, came from Russia and China.
Russian tourist numbers increased by 20 per cent to nearly 200.000, while China was not far behind, with an 18 per cent growth and 225.000 visitors. Last year had seen a 23 per cent increase in tourists from China and Japan.
On the other hand, numbers of visitors from countries which had previously had higher numbers of tourists, such as Spain and the United States, decreased.
The Netherlands' popularity
The main reason for growth in 2013, according to NBTC CEO Jos Vranken, is the many special events that occurred last year, such as the coronation and the reopening of the Rijksmuseum.
It was also a warmer summer, which proved to be an incentive for visitors from neighbouring countries.
A third reason was growth in the emerging travel markets of Russia and China was above average, increasing the numbers of people there able to afford to travel.
Promoting brand 'Holland'
Another contributing factor was greater international promotion of 2013's special events, which led to results like Amsterdam being named one of 2013's top destinations by travel guides and international media.
This may be about to end, though, according to Vranken: "Starting next year, the government is investing as much as fifty per cent less in branding and marketing of destination 'Holland', while our country has to deal with large and growing competition."
"This means a further reduction in the visibility and impact and competitiveness of 'Holland'," he said.
Further growth expected
Despite the concern over a lack of international presence for the Netherlands as a top tourist destination, NBTC does expect 2014 to be another big year for the Dutch tourism industry.
They are predicting 13 million visitors this year, a two per cent increase on the last.
While the growth in visitors from neighbouring countries will continue, it will be slower, while tourist numbers from emerging travel markets in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will increase even more.