The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC) has recorded 30 per cent growth in 2017 over 2016. Alphonsus Stoelinga, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to India, Nepal and Bhutan, said that the numbers of Indians visiting Holland is on a rise.
Alphonsus Stoelinga revealed that they are expecting 2018 to record a double-digit growth. Attributing this growth to the increased air connectivity, he said, “With Jet Airways offering direct connections from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam; as well as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines starting operations from Mumbai to Amsterdam, the number of travellers between the two countries is increasing. Amsterdam is a hub for Indians to not only land in Holland and explore the destination but also visit other European countries, especially with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offering connections to all of Europe and America. The addition of Jet Airways’ connections across India is only going to boost traffic between both the countries.”
He revealed that this year’s theme for marketing for NBTC would be luxury, and the country has many offerings and experiences for travellers in this segment. “Our focus in 2018 will be to promote Holland as a luxury destination, wherein NBTC would be targeting affluent Indian outbound travellers. The museums in both Amsterdam and other cities offer a great experience for connoisseurs of art. These cities also offer a laidback lifestyle with not many people around, which itself is luxury for Indians today.”
“Foreign travel is going by 15 per cent per year with
domestic travel up with 24 per cent per year. This implies the growing purchasing power of Indians along with the rising middle-class”
He added that apart from 30 per cent growth in tourist arrivals from India to Holland, they have also seen 30 per cent more Indian students in the Netherlands. “The effect of this growth is on us in the embassy as the number of visa applications is also growing by 25-30 per cent per year. Hence, there is enormous traffic from India to Netherlands and vice versa. This growth comes in line with the growth of Indian economy, which is growing at 7 per cent in total. Foreign travel is going by 15 per cent per year with domestic travel up with 24 per cent per year. This implies the growing purchasing power of Indians along with the rising middle-class,” he shared.
With the peak season approaching, visa applications take long to get processed. Stoelinga said, “We try to process the visa in the scheduled time and cope with the capacity here. We are also continuously increasing the capacity of our staff. It might take a few days longer in the peak season, but we do try to make it as quick as possible to get a visa. Apart from increasing our capacity to process the applications, we also urge Indians to avoid waiting till the last minute to obtain visa and submit all their applications the moment they plan their trip.”
In Holland, Stoelinga mentions, Indians are attracted by cities like Amsterdam. However, he insisted that they should explore other cities in the country as well. “We have a lot of cities with similar canals and the same atmosphere as Amsterdam, and with less tourists. Now, we are trying to convince them to explore the cities first and then take a tour of the nature, tulips and landscape. In fact, Holland has a very special landscape as we are partly below sea level. It’s a flat land, which is kept dry by windmills. We don’t have any modern machines to keep the land dry,” he claimed.
In order to create awareness about Holland in India, Stoelinga said that NBTC, along with Jet Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Schiphol airport, will be doing joint promotions throughout the country via social media, digital campaigns, etc. “While the awareness is there, there is a lot of outreach by us as well. Whenever I travel to any of the Indian states, I always take Dutch companies along. Also, there is always a session on The Netherlands for travel agencies as well as for students. I always tell students that the Netherlands is a very good alternative for United States and Britain for studies,” he added.
For a long time, Indians have been combining The Netherlands with the rest of Europe. This might change now as the country is now a hub for flights coming into Europe from India. “In Europe, Indians are spending one to two weeks, but only a few days in the Netherlands. We always tell Indians that The Netherlands is a hub for Indian exports to Europeans and for Indian investments in Europe. Many companies have established themselves in The Netherlands now. Especially after Brexit, we have 2.5 times more Indian companies establishing themselves in The Netherlands. With increased connectivity between both countries via KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, people arriving in Amsterdam, come only for The Netherlands. We hope that they stay longer and explore many cities
of the country.”