The Netherlands Tourism Industry

The Netherlands has traditionally been one of the economic and trade hubs of Europe. In the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, the country whose name means "Lower Lands", was reclaimed literally from the ocean. A series of windmills and dykes were built to drain low-lying areas, creating thousands of acres of farmland. This boosted the country's economy, allowed the nation to expand to other continents. Subsequently, one of the great trading houses and technological centres in Europe developed.

Holland has always played a pivotal role as mediator between many other European countries throughout history; in fact, the Netherlands was frequently used as a place where European and world leaders throughout history could meet in the past and discuss international affairs. The capital, The Hague, is well-known for its International Human Rights Court as well as for being the heart of the United Nations.

Dutch Tourism Statistics

Over 10 million people visit the Netherlands every year and they mainly arrive from Germany, Britain, the United States and other European countries. Most other tourism comes from the EEC, whose member states have waived visa regulations. As a result, many people from across Europe take day trips to the Netherlands using rail, bus-lines and even low-cost airlines.

Some 1.7% of the Dutch GDP is created by tourism and in 2011, the industry brought in €10.3 billion (£8.9 billion) for the low-lying nation's treasury

Most Popular Destinations and Attractions

The most frequented tourist sites in the Netherlands are the historical towns and cities. Amsterdam and Leiden are both famous for their extensive and architecturally impressive canal networks. Even today, many of the canals are used to connect residents of the cities who commute to and from their home and business with an extensive gondola network that is part of the public transportation system. Cities in the Netherlands are famous for their progressive attitude towards alternative energy sources and residents and citizens either walk or cycle through parts of town instead of taking cars. Tourists are also encouraged to use the free, coin-operated bicycle networks across Dutch cities.

As one of the trade and cultural hubs of Europe, many great artists were born in the Netherlands. There are museums dedicated to Rembrandt, Van Gogh and other titans of the arts. In addition, the country is filled with Medieval, Baroque, Neoclassical and even Modern buildings and architecture. The Netherlands also has a recorded history that goes back several thousand years, well into the Roman era.

Types of Holidays in Holland

Historical - Historical tours across the Netherlands aim to cover usually one time period or theme, because of the country's detailed and rich history. Alternatively, there are also generalised tours available which aim to take in as much of the historical cities and locations as possible, allowing a tourist to see a complete picture of Dutch history. There are Celtic fortresses, Roman ruins of towns and baths, Medieval and Romanesque castles and churches, Baroque and Renaissance mansions and palaces, as well as hundreds of thousands of acres of countryside, national parks and some of the world's oldest and largest gardens.

Shopping - Tourists from all over the world come to the Netherlands to take part in the rich and diverse shopping experience. As Holland has always been an economic and trade capital of Europe, it has always had access to the rarest and most exotic goods. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Dutch access to rare spices, sugar, tea, coffee, dyes, fabric and fur from all over the New World, Africa and Asia propelled the country's merchants to prominence. Today this is reflected in the thousands of shopping centres, high street stores and fine-dining restaurants. Compared to other Western European nations, the Netherlands also tends to be less expensive simply because there is so much local competition available.

Agricultural and engineering achievements - Many tourists come to the Netherlands to marvel at the agricultural and engineering achievements. There are over 1,000 old windmills across the country, which were used to slowly drain the waters of the low-lying coastal areas in the 1700s. The windmills and dykes are well preserved and some of the structures are venerated as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Nature tourism - While the Netherlands does not have many mountains or hills, there is still an extensive network of national parks which are mainly made up of heath-lands, sand dunes and coastal, low-lying areas. The West Frisian Islands, accessible by cycling or hiking with an expert guide across sand dunes at low tide are some of the most popular outdoor tourist spots.

The Netherlands, as one of the most advanced economic, cultural and scientific hubs of Europe is set to become even more prominent in the 2020s, as more political, business and technological developments are under way.