The Dutch Market

  • The Netherlands, more commonly known as Holland, is Ireland’s 8th largest overseas source market.  At 41,000 sq kilometres it is just about half the size of Ireland, but with a population of 16.6 million, over 4 times that of Ireland.
  • The Dutch United Provinces declared their independence from Spain in 1579; during the 17th century they became a leading seafaring and commercial power, with settlements and colonies around the world.  After a 20-year French occupation, a Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815.  In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom.  The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I, but suffered invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II.  A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products.
  • Holland is a low-lying country with 27% of its area and 60% of its population located below sea level – scary or what?  But it is well protected by a vast 3,000-kilometre outer sea dyke system and a 10,000-kilometre inner canal system.

    The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy, which depends heavily on foreign trade.  The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, moderate unemployment and inflation, a sizable current account surplus, and an important role as a European transportation hub.  Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery.  A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs no more than 3% of the labour force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports.  The country continues to be one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment.  The economy experienced a slowdown in 2005 but in 2006 recovered to the fastest pace in six years on the back of increased exports and strong investment.  The pace of job growth reached 10-year highs in 2007.

  • The Dutch took over 26 million trips abroad in 2007, with an estimated 155,000 of those coming to Ireland and spending an estimated €71 million.  Visitor numbers have remained fairly static in recent years, never regaining the numbers reached in 2001 of 182,000.
  • Given that the Netherlands is one of Europe’s most densely populated countries it is not surprising that part of Ireland’s appeal is its sense of space and also its mountainous areas.  Having such a high density of population (and being one of the tallest races in Europe-men on average are over 6 feet tall), the Dutch seek space and a green environment.
  • The Dutch are highly price sensitive and were among the first markets to be critical of costs in Ireland, back as far as the early 1990’s.
  • Our visitors from Holland are relatively young with 40% under the age of 35, and not surprisingly the Internet is becoming increasingly popular as a source of information for choosing (28%) and planning (45%) a holiday.
  • Dublin and the South West are the most popular areas, and Dutch holidaymakers are quite an active group with about 20% including hill walking or hiking in their holiday.
  • There are frequent air services to Ireland, with flights to Dublin from Amsterdam and Eindhoven, and to Cork from Amsterdam.  And 16% of Dutch holidaymakers made their way here by ferry.
  • France is the biggest destination for Dutch travellers with about 20% of them going there, followed by Germany 15%, Spain 13%, Belgium 8%, Austria 7%, the UK a surprisingly modest 6%, the same as Italy and Turkey.
  • You would imagine we should be able to attract at least 1% of that market which would be about 260,000 visitors.  But we’re a long way from that.
  • For more, much more, about the Dutch market, click here for the Tourism Ireland site.
  • Next up – Spain.
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