Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs responds to criticism of low-cost carriers and Airbnb from the head of Amsterdam Marketing
At the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne, the chief executive of Amsterdam Marketing, Frans van der Avert, claimed that Ryanair and Airbnb tourism is destroying European cities.
This is total nonsense. It shows he clearly does not understand how tourism works and, worse, he has no respect for the nearly 14 million tourists who visit Amsterdam every year.
The money these tourists spend makes up over 7% of the Dutch economy (GDP).
Firstly, let me point out one important fact that escapes Mr van der Avert. Ryanair is Europe’s biggest airline with 130 million customers this year. However, Amsterdam is one of the smallest route networks in our operation.
So far, we fly to Amsterdam from two cities, Dublin and Malaga. This year we will bring 525,000 customers to and from Amsterdam.
About half of these are Dutch nationals, one quarter are tourists and the other quarter are business travellers. So, Ryanair is big but we carry less than 1% of the tourists who visit Amsterdam.
Secondly, yes, Amsterdam does have a lot of tourists. Cities like Barcelona and Prague are also very popular and at certain times of year some locals do consider it too much.
But that does not mean you stop tourism or show such disrespect to the tourists who do come as Mr van der Avert does when he says he wants to “increase the quality” of the visitors.
The approach of the Netherlands should be to diversify the tourism to other parts of the country outside of Amsterdam.
I have spent a lot of time visiting and working in The Netherlands. It is a wonderful country that offers a great variety of tourist attractions that cater to all tastes and the Dutch people are amongst the friendliest and most open in the world.
I have had great times in Amsterdam, but I have also spent a lot of time in Rotterdam, Maastricht and the north coast. There is a lot more to do in this great county than just party by the canals in Amsterdam.
That is what Dutch tourism needs to do, get more tourists visiting other parts of the country and experiencing more of what the Netherlands has to offer.
Thirdly, if Mr van der Avert feels that Amsterdam is only attracting tourists who want to party he should not criticise the tourists, he should criticise the leadership of the organisation responsible for running Amsterdam tourism, which is clearly incapable of marketing the city to tourist segments other than party goers. Wait a minute, isn’t marketing Mr van der Avert’s job!
Mr van der Avert should get his facts right and stop disrespecting the tourists who support one in 10 jobs in the Netherlands, including his own.
Finally, about one in 10 Dutch people work in the tourism industry. I know a lot of people who manage hotels, restaurants and run businesses that depend on tourists. How do they feel about the comments from Mr van der Avert ?
Mr van der Avert’s views are those of someone who wants tourism to be the preserve of the wealthy.
He would clearly like hotels and airfares to Amsterdam to be more expensive so that everyday tourists cannot afford them. That is stupid. Tourists will just go to other better value destinations in Germany, Spain and other countries and the only loser will be the Dutch economy.
Cities all over Europe are working with Ryanair because they want to boost their economy through tourism – and these partnerships work very well.
The best thing about the European Union in the past 30 years has been the opening up of low cost air travel to all citizens.
Airlines like Ryanair have made it possible for consumers to explore all parts of Europe on their holidays, made it possible for students to study abroad, for people to work in different countries and have allowed businesses to expand.
Mr van der Avert needs to wake up and do a better job selling Amsterdam. He should get his facts right and stop disrespecting the tourists who support one in 10 jobs in the Netherlands, including his own.
Ryanair will continue to expand in the Netherlands – we will do that because Dutch consumers want more choice and lower fares and the Dutch economy wants more tourists.
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