Interview: How Netherlands Tourism Is Luring Visitors Out of Amsterdam


May 13, 2014 12:00 pm

Skift Take

The Netherlands’ challenge of getting tourists out of the capital and into the countryside is one that several European destinations can understand. Identifying different market’s primary interests in the first step in wooing them away from the big city.

— Samantha Shankman

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Bert Knottenbeld  / Flickr

Tourists cycle through Monnickendam, a North Holland city located a 20-minute drive from Amsterdam. Bert Knottenbeld / Flickr

How do you encourage tourists from around the world to leave a renowned city and adventure to the less talked about parts of a country?

This is the challenge that the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Convention’s global director of marketing, Conrad van Tiggelen, was tasked with on a recent trip to New York City. Tiggelen, who has spent the majority of his tourism career with the Netherland’s tourism board, is on a global journey to find out how to best promote his small European homeland to travelers from different markets.

While he readily admits that Amsterdam is the trip motivator for visitors from New York to Shanghai, he sees an opportunity to draw visitors outside of the capital city by raising awareness of how quickly they can arrive in other cities and promoting the diverse attractions and culture in each part of the country.

“Amsterdam might be the trigger to come to Holland, but then we say, ‘Okay, if you are interested in architecture then you probably want to go to Rotterdam,'” van Tiggelen explains.

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The Netherlands attracts a diverse set of tourists who come for everything from Rembrandt to coffee shops. And that interest in art, outdoors or culture matters more to the tourism board than the visitors’ age.

“We don’t think in age brackets. We think in lifestyles. It doesn’t matter if you are a millennial or a baby boomer, you still have the same mindset,” says van Tiggelen. “Of course, the tool set you use might be different depending on the age bracket.”

In his travels, van Tiggelen is also attempting to identify the travel desires of each market. The best example of this is the organization’s mixed marketing strategy for China.

“Everybody sees China as one big market, but China is actually a huge country,” says van Tiggelen. “There are regional differences.”

In Beijing, for example, the Netherlands’ marketing message focuses on clean fresh air. In Shanghai, it focuses more on shopping.

We spoke to van Tiggelen about these topics as well as Holland’s most recent marketing campaign and pot tourism in the video interview below:

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