Med Pearls: key facts about the Netherlands as a potential market for Slow Tourism


With the goal of gathering strategic information to internationally position the Mediterranean as an integral destination to experience Slow Tourism, the Med Pearls project  developed a series of market researches on the international demand for Slow Tourism: the ‘Research study on Slow Tourism international trends and innovations’ and the ‘Analysis of the Slow Tourism International Demand’. The main goal of these studies is to help tourism agents in the creation, promotion, and marketing of slow tourism products in 7 international markets relevant to the Med Pearls destinations. In this last article of the series we will talk about the main characteristics of the Netherlands

With a population of 17 million people, the Netherlands ranks globally in 5th place in the list of tourism outbound markets towards the countries of Med Pearls. In 2018, the number of overnights trips abroad taken by Dutch travellers was of around 33,5 million trips and the country ranked in 15th place for international tourism expenditure with more than US $21.1bn. In that same year more than eight out of ten Dutch went on at least one holiday. 

The research shows that Dutch holidaymakers tend to travel with a frequency of 3 times per person per year. In fact, Dutch travellers consider holidays as a spending priority. Furthermore, their main factors to choose a destination are price, safety, nature, gastronomy, and nice ambience. In 2017, 3 Med Pearls countries were found in the top 10 ranking of most visited destinations by Dutch travellers: Spain (12%), Italy (7%) and Greece (4%). 

Regarding customer profiles that could match the slow tourism philosophy, the research identified two: the hiker profile and the cycler profile (detailed thoroughly in the research). The second one is relevant in the Dutch market, as cycling is a big part of the daily life in the Netherlands, with the highest bike-density index in the world (19 million). Cycling is also a popular leisure activity for 52% of the population, with more than 197-million-day trips per year, and holidaymakers looking for cycling activities during their holidays. In fact, the research highlights that 1,1 million Dutch are planning a cycling holiday in the next 3 years (8% of the total population) and 640.000 went on a cycling holiday in the past three years. 

The investigations highlight that more and more Dutch tour operators are looking for products linked to ‘slow principles’ and ‘responsible and sustainable tourism'. Among these ones, the tour operators most specialized in this kind of products tend to be small or medium-size companies. One interesting fact is that tour operators from Netherlands are usually the ones with the lower prices within the Med Pearls analysed markets, the research points out. 

Regarding fairs, in the Netherlands there are no travel fairs dedicated solely to Slow Tourism. Like with tour operators, the smallest fairs are the most specialized and often the ones with a dedicated section on responsible tourism. The research highlights two important fairs to consider, the Fiets en Wandelbeurs (one of the most important hiking and walking fairs in Europe) and the Vakantiebeurs (the most important tourism fair in the Netherlands).

Besides these outcomes, the reader will find that the research also developed an intuitive guide of recommendations to help in the creation of slow tourism products and how to get tour operators interested in their “slow destinations" and products. For further information on this topic, the Dutch market analysis, or the other studies, you can check the links below: 
-    Market research on Slow Tourism Demand (Dutch list of operators, fairs, media and other relevant info)
-    Netherlands - Slow Tourism International Demand 
-    Manual and Analysis of the Slow Tourism International Demand
-    Recommendations - Slow Tourism International Demand