Updated on November 16, 2022 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The city has several well-reputed universities, academies, and research institutes, along with more than 40 museums, numerous theatres, and entertainment venues, and all these places make it a perfect destination to visit and live. Amsterdam is also the country’s leading cultural centre. In addition, the city is famous for its many well-preserved historic homes.

Here we will describe some of the t op trends, statistics, and facts about the Amsterdam tourism industry.

Covid-19 and the tourism industry

Amsterdam’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic since the beginning in mid-March when the Netherlands went into semi-lockdown to combat the covid-19 pandemic. Tourism vanished from Amsterdam almost overnight. A social and economic crisis has hit the country and its capital hard. But for residents of Amsterdam’s historic city centre, there is a clear silver lining : temporary relief from the burden of over-tourism.

No doubt, the cause of this crisis was very sad, but for residents, it was a blessing in disguise, because the city was facing over tourism before this pandemic. Due to a lack of tourists, many Amsterdammers were reminded of a time when the city, first and foremost, was a place to live, and n ot to consume or play tourist. However, city officials have been using such strategies and policies to create a more sustainable tourism industry since the time after the pandemic.

Pre- and Post-pandemic Statistics

  • As early as 2014, Amsterdam stopped promoting itself as a destination in new markets overseas.
  • Instead, the city’s marketing organization worked to guide and manage all of the visitors who showed up in the city.
  • Before the pandemic, the council adopted a string of tough measures to get a handle on tourism problems including a ban on guided tours of the Red Light District ; a ban on new hotels in the city centre ; an increase in the tourist tax ; and a ban on new shops that cater to tourists.
  • Tourist tax was raised to €3 ( US $ 3,38 ) per person per night, in addition to a 7% hotel tax per room, and tours of the red-light district were banned.
  • New shops catering solely to international visitors, such as those selling wooden tulips and vacuum-packed cheeses were also forbidden.
  • Businesses in the red-light district have reported revenue losses of up to 90%.
  • Hotel occupancy rates decreased from 81% in March 2019, to 41.2% in March 2020.
  • In 2019, a record-breaking 21.7 million people visited Amsterdam, a city with a population of about 870,000.
  • To revitalize neighbourhoods dominated by cut-price tourism, the council was pushing ahead with a ban on holiday rentals in three areas, including the red-light district, starting from July 1st, 2020.
  • City officials are trying to create a more sustainable tourism industry that doesn’t harm the liveability of the city, and that takes into account the needs of residents and locals.
  • Sustainability plans include creating environmentally friendly mobility solutions, establishing an effective waste-management plan, establishing a crowd management system to control busy places, etc.
  • Amsterdam&Partners created local deals to encourage residents to explore their city safely, which helped support the reopening of businesses and the cultural sector.
  • Nationally, the Dutch tourism board NBTC is focusing on encouraging tourists to visit lesser-known, but equally beautiful, parts of the Netherlands, an aim that was outlined in its Perspective 2030 report in 2018.
  • Part of the agenda is also to inspire Dutch people to travel domestically which forms part of NBTC’s plan to stimulate an industry revival and salvage the summer holidays.

Contribution of tourism in Amsterdam

  • According to a study by SEO Economic Bureau, tourism in Amsterdam is growing faster and it contributes 2.7 billion euros to the prosperity of the Dutch capital,
  • Amsterdam receives about 18 million visitors per year.
  • On average each visitor spends 242 euros per visit, that’s a total of about 6.3 billion euros.
  • After costs are deducted, an amount of 2.7 billion euros is left that contributes to the prosperity of the city.
  • This money goes into the wallets of retailers, tourism companies, and their employees – who in turn use money in other stores, cafes and restaurants, keeping the money moving through Amsterdam.
  • Tourism accounts for around 4.5% of the Amsterdam economy.
  • Since 2007, jobs in Amsterdam’s tourism sector increased by around 33% to 61,000 around 11% of the total jobs in the city.
  • 75% of these jobs are for 12 hours per week or more.
  • As of 2018, there were  69,195 jobs in the tourism industry in Amsterdam.
  • This is an increase from the 65,609 jobs reached in 2017 and the highest number reached since 2010.
  • In 2019, the Amsterdam tourism sector accounted for 69,424 jobs.
  • In Amsterdam, 1 out of 9 jobs in Amsterdam is in the tourism sector.
  • Almost four out of ten tourists that travelled to the Netherlands in 2017 visited Amsterdam.

Tourism Industry Insight

  • Amsterdam has joined more than 20 other European cities to advocate stricter rules on vacation-rental platforms at the European Commission and in the European Parliament.
  • Amsterdam is investing thousands of euros in attracting tourists but “the right kind of tourists”.
  • In the first campaign for 2021, the city has allocated a €100,000 fund to attract tourists interested in visiting the city by advertising the city’s street art ; the over-100-meters A’DAM Tower’s hydraulic swing which is the highest swing in Europe and the city encourages tourists to fish for plastic to clean up canals.
  • City councillors have welcomed the goal of establishing respectful tourism in Amsterdam while increasing policing and on-the-spot fines for inappropriate behaviour.
  • According to Dennis Boutkan, the PvdA Labour party councillor, this goal aligns with the city’s vision that “visitors are welcome but not at any price”.

Other tourist-related trends and facts

  • Cannabis joints may be legal in Amsterdam, but smoking tobacco has been banned in cafes and restaurants since 2008.
  • People are also prohibited from smoking in all trains, stations, and waiting areas. If anyone is caught by authorities, he/she is expected to pay a fine of €25 or more.
  • There are more than 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam, many of which visitors can stay in instead of a typical hotel.
  • The Rijksmuseum holds more than 8,000 art and historical objects on display. Yearly, 2+ million people explore it, making it the Netherlands’ most visited museum.
  • The Amsterdam Flower Market ( Bloemenmarkt ) is the only floating flower market in the world, and visitors can explore the most fragrant and vibrant place in the Dutch capital Monday through Saturday.
  • Albert Cuypmarkt is the largest outdoor market in Europe where visitors can find anything from exotic fruits, flowers, and fish to books, leather goods, and clothing.
  • Amsterdam is the only city in the world with a medieval centre that is a Red Light District.
  • One of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam is to go on a canal cruise. More than 3 million passengers cruise the waters each year.
  • Amsterdam also has more bridges than Venice. There are only around 400 bridges in Venice, but Amsterdam has 1281 bridges.
  • Another unique attraction on the Amsterdam waterways is a catboat, De Poezenboot – La Barca dei Gatti. This is an animal shelter and a gift shop where visitors can adopt a cat.
  • Amsterdam is rated as the second most bike-friendly city in the world. Copenhagen, Denmark is the first.
  • Visitors who are looking for a coffee and pastry should visit a koffiehuis, not a coffee shop. In Amsterdam, a coffee shop for cannabis, while a koffiehuis is to go for a morning dose of caffeine.
  • It is illegal to enter a coffee shop in Amsterdam for youngsters under 18 years of age.
  • The Netherlands is known for its many varieties of delicious cheese. Famous cheeses originating in the Netherlands include Old Amsterdam, Edam and Gouda.
  • “ Amsterdam Holland Pass ” is a pre-paid city pass and discount card allowing free access to many top museums, attractions, activities and city sightseeing in Amsterdam and other major cities in the Netherlands.
  • The “ I Amsterdam City Card ” is the “ official ” city pre-paid pass and discount card allowing free access to many top museums. Furthermore, it gives discounts on attractions and activities in Amsterdam.
  • A separate free public transport ticket is included to use the public transport system in Amsterdam.
  • Combination Deal is a unique way to save money on many top museums and attractions in Amsterdam and even more throughout the Netherlands. So the more tickets visitors combine, the more money they can save.
  • The ‘Museumkaart’ is a personal museum pass, valid for one year for Dutch residents in more than 350 museums in the Netherlands but now for tourists, the temporary Museumcard is only admissible with 5 museum visits for a maximum of 31 days.
  • Visitors can enjoy a live virtual webcam tour around Amsterdam by viewing top-rated streaming live Amsterdam webcams.