Visit Holland - The Netherlands

Culture becoming increasingly important to visitors to Amsterdam

Research has revealed that visitors to the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area are attaching increasing importance to the range of cultural activities on offer in the region, both as an initial reason to plan a trip to Amsterdam and in relation to how they spend their time once in the city.


The percentage of tourists that visit a museum during their visit rose from 73% in 2007 to 85% in 2011. An increase in general appreciation of the available cultural activities was noted across the board. 32% of tourists identified ‘culture’ as one of the most positive aspects of the city, an increase of 10% since four years ago. These are just a few findings of the Amsterdam Visitor Survey (Bezoekersonderzoek) 2012 Amsterdam 2012. Conducted by the Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board (ATCB), the survey comprises the views of more than 10,000 visitors to the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.

A wide range of visitors were interviewed for the survey: Dutch and international visitors, tourists and business travellers and same-day visitors that opt not to stay the night.

Reason for visiting and activities
The most significant reasons behind a visit to Amsterdam are cultural history (66%), museums (50%), reputation (33%) and the charming, easy-going atmosphere (33%). Favourite activities identified include ‘wandering around the city’ (95%), visiting a museum (85%), ‘dining out’ (70%), visiting a café/bar (65%), ‘viewing 17th and 18th-century architecture’ (64%) and shopping (53%).

There’s good news for the tourist industry in the Amsterdam region: the survey indicates that an increasing number of tourists are discovering the attractions the region has to offer. The amount of visitors departing from Amsterdam to visit one or more attractions in the region has risen by 28% since 2007. The most popular attractions are the Zuiderzee towns, (34%), the Zaanse Schans (29%) and Haarlem (15%).

Visitor expenditure has never been higher. American and British tourists spend the most during their stay: an average of 181 euros and 155 per person per day. British visitors spend the most on nightlife while Dutch visitors contribute the most to income generated by theatres and concert locations. Amsterdam’s visitor economy generates an estimated 5.7 billion euros annually and in excess of 50,400 full-time jobs.

Amsterdam moved to 9th position on the European league table for the number of nights spent in hotels by international visitors, but due to the small gap separating Prague, Dublin, Madrid and Vienna, this could easily be viewed as a shared 5th position.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol plays an important role in visits to Amsterdam. Excluding transit passengers, the airport is the seventh busiest in Europe.

Image of Amsterdam
In general, visitors are extremely satisfied with the city. The overall score has not altered since the previous survey: an impressive rating of 8.1 out of 10. However, certain shifts were visible at more specific levels of the survey. Visitors to the city were primarily pleased with aspects including the atmosphere, the compact layout of the city and the architecture. Negative aspects identified by visitors include the city being too busy, the large amount of bikes, poor cleanliness and high prices

Visitor profile
The range of visitors to Amsterdam is becoming increasingly diverse, for example, in terms of nationality and age. Visitors aged between 21 and 30 years old still form the largest group (29%), but all other age categories occupy a range of 12% to 16% as opposed to 5% to 18% in 2007. Amsterdam is also attracting a higher percentage of newcomers to the city - the percentage of newcomers is now almost equal to the percentage of return visitors. The emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China (the so-called BRIC countries) play a notable role in this change. However, the top 4 countries in terms of visitor numbers are still the Netherlands, Great Britain, the US and Germany.

With regard to information sources, the survey reveals that 75% of visitors consult the internet before deciding to visit Amsterdam.

Research background
The Amsterdam Visitor Survey has been conducted for more than 10 years, but this is the first time that the ATCB simultaneously interviewed visitors to Amsterdam and those to the surrounding area. The most important findings from the survey are presented in two brochures, complete with a host of illustrations that help to elucidate the results. The brochures Amsterdam Visitor Profile 2012 and Amsterdam as Convention Destination 2012 Key Figures are available to download for free as an e-book on the ATCB website. The survey findings will enable the effective development and support of the city marketing activities in the years to come. One striking conclusion of the survey is that the average number of activities undertaken per tourist is higher than ever. They undertake an average of 10.2 activities per visit, compared to ‘just’ 6.8 in 2007. A new element of the survey is that connections can now be made between the visitors and their activities. For example, the survey now indicates which other museums the average Van Gogh Museum visitor also visits as well as whether they also attend a theatre performance during their stay.

The Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board (ATCB) conducts the Amsterdam Visitor Survey every 4 years using a fixed methodology and consistent list of questions. This enables comparisons to be drawn between surveys from different years.

More than 10,000 visitors to the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area were personally interviewed between January and December 2011. This resulted in a wealth of information about where they stay, the activities they partook in, how they spent their money, satisfaction levels, information sources and how they booked their travel arrangements and accommodation.

During this period, a total of 6,691 visitors to Amsterdam above the age of 15 were interviewed. With an additional 3,508 interviews of visitors to the surrounding region that were conducted between March and October 2011, the survey is based on a total of 10,199 respondents. Of the 6,691 interviewed Amsterdam visitors, 5,192 stayed at least one night in the city while the remaining 1,499 were same-day visitors.

The interviews were conducted at 40 different locations, including at accommodation in the city, on (shopping) streets, at attractions and museums, at transfer locations (ports, stations) and congress locations. The interviews took place in each month of the year, on each day of the week and at various times of the day. The interviews were subject to strict quality control both during and following the survey. In order to guarantee the quality of the results, they were compared with, for example, statistics attained by Statistics Netherlands.

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