Permanently fewer business travellers
In the most likely scenario, travel restrictions will be phased out this year and international tourists will slowly find their way back to the Netherlands. Cities must, however, take into account a permanent decline in the number of business travellers. More meetings and events will take place online. Domestic and foreign travellers are expected to book about 34.6 million overnight stays this year, which is 37% less than in 2019, but 12% more than last year.
“With this growth forecast, there will be just as many tourists coming to our country in 2022 as during the heyday of 2019. Only that does not apply to Amsterdam,” says Joost Mees, head of hotel real estate Benelux. "In the capital, we expect 6.9 million overnight stays this year compared to 18.4 million two years ago. The recovery will take until at least the end of 2023.”
Nature trips popular in 2020
Due to the corona outbreak, hotel bookings plummeted in April last year. Especially hotel rooms in the big cities that rely heavily on foreign (business) travellers were mostly empty. From April to October, between 45% and 80% fewer guests slept in these cities. However, there was an exception: in July, 9% more tourists came to The Hague than in 2019.
“This is mainly due to the city's location near the beach. Nature and coastal areas turned out to be a big hit last summer,” says Joost Mees. "The Dutch sought out wide spaces in their own country to relax and the damage to the sector was limited here. During the holiday period, Drenthe, Friesland, Limburg and other regions with lots of nature attracted even more people than the year before."
Hotel revenues continue to suffer from the virus for longer. As long as the demand for rooms is lower than in the years before the corona outbreak, room prices will be lower. Even after the number of overnight stays has recovered, competition among hotels means that the revenue per room is lower. It will take one to two more years before the damage in this area is repaired.
If global travel behaviour changes definitively, whereby in addition to a quarter fewer business travellers, 5% fewer foreign travellers travel to the Netherlands, it will take until 2024 before the number of nights spent in the Netherlands is back at the old level. “People want to keep traveling, so the recovery of the sector is inevitable after all,” said Joost Mees.