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Annual results show opportunities for recovery in The Hague's economy

5 March 2021

Continuing interest in companies, popularity of beach and hybrid conferences offer opportunities

The corona crisis has hit the economy of The Hague hard. The reserves of our Hague partners in the visitor economy are running out. It has trickled down. With the various lockdowns, 2020 was therefore a bad year. Nevertheless, there are some bright spots in the annual results of The Hague & Partners. International companies and NGOs are still very much interested in establishing themselves in The Hague, and global lockdowns and Brexit have actually led to new opportunities for the city. Visits in The Hague fell less sharply last year than in the rest of the Netherlands, which gives good hope for a faster recovery. In addition, we have reached more local and regional visitors with "support your locals" activities. With hybrid conferences we have the opportunity to connect mega conferences to our city in the future. “Now it is important to seize those opportunities in order to achieve a sustainable recovery of the economy as quickly as possible,” says Marco Esser, director of The Hague & Partners.

The Hague & Partners is the official marketing and acquisition organisation of The Hague and focuses on attracting (international) visitors, conferences, companies and organizations to the city. In this way, the organization gives a boost to The Hague's economy. “The economy of The Hague has been hit hard by the virus. The business and leisure tourism sector, which is normally so beneficial to the city, is struggling. That is why, together with the municipality of The Hague, we are working hard to achieve sustainable and accelerated recovery, ”Esser explains. “Corona has forced us to change course very quickly. Digitization has enabled us to achieve results in 2020. ”

Brexit and The Hague as a European base

As part of The Hague & Partners, The Hague Business Agency is responsible for attracting international companies and NGOs to the city. Despite the battered world economy, the adjusted 2020 targets were achieved, which is positive for the coming year. For example, 23 international companies and NGOs were brought to the city at a time when many companies are moving cautiously due to the fragile economy. These companies will ultimately yield The Hague an investment of € 31 million in the city. For example, the International Geothermal Association (IGA) is located in The Hague. In the past year, despite travel restrictions, 110 conversations, mostly virtual, were hold with companies interested in establishing themselves in the Netherlands and possibly in The Hague. “Because corona paralyzed international trade, international companies need a branch in Europe,” explains Esser. “In this way, companies avoid being cut off from the European market in such a situation. The Hague has an attractive infrastructure of companies, NGOs and governments, which now provides new opportunities for the city. ” Moreover, due to Brexit, there is great interest in a branch within the European Union of companies and NGOs from the United Kingdom.

Oceans of space offers hope for recovery

As part of The Hague & Partners, The Hague Marketing Bureau is responsible for attracting (local, regional, national and international) visitors to the city. The visitor economy in The Hague has had an unprecedentedly difficult year in which overnight tourism largely came to a complete standstill and restaurants, museums and attractions were forced to close. The number of visitors who stayed overnight in the city in 2020 was logically a lot lower than in 2019 when there was no corona yet. Nevertheless, the figures give good hope for a rapid recovery of overnight tourism in The Hague. In the Netherlands as a whole, there were 65 percent fewer overnight stays by international visitors in 2020, while the decrease in The Hague was 39 percent. The total number of overnight stays by overnight guests, almost one million, fell by 42 percent (compared to –47% nationally). Especially in the summer period, The Hague was still well visited. “With its beautiful 11-kilometer-long beach, The Hague offers visitors plenty of space,” says Esser. “This year too we will focus on spreading. The visitor economy has changed as a result of corona. People avoid the crowded areas and are looking for second tier cities that have everything but are less crowded. We can offer that with our oceans of ​​space. ”

Hybrid conferences

As part of The Hague & Partners, The Hague Convention Bureau focuses on attracting international conferences to the city. Due to corona, the organization of physical conferences came to a complete standstill. The number of conferences and events decreased to 16 in 2020. We have managed to keep the city top of mind by means of a webinar program and continuous online visibility of The Hague as a conference city. For the long term, more than € 100 million in leads was collected this year. The new trend in the conference market is hybrid conferences, where a small proportion of visitors are physically present and a much larger proportion participate virtually. Last year, The Hague Convention Bureau managed to become one of the global pioneers in the field of hybrid conferences. In December, for example, the organization launched the Hybrid City Alliance together with the Canadian Ottawa Tourism. This alliance will be further expanded in the coming year. Hybrid conferences offer The Hague great opportunities for the future, because large conferences can be brought to the city for which there is normally no space.

Economy recovery and growth

The recovery of the Hague's economy is partly related to the development of the corona virus and the measures to combat its spread. Based on the opportunities that have arisen in the past year of corona, The Hague & Partners is convinced that the recovery can be started quickly. The organization has a recovery plan for this. “We are committed to recovery in the short term, whereby retention of jobs in the business and leisure tourism sector is crucial for residents of The Hague. With a focus on sustainable visits, we encourage visitors to stay longer in the city and make more use of the possibilities that we offer as a city, ”says Esser. “This sector mainly provides work for practically educated people. It is therefore very important for them - for whom there is little other work available in our city - that we can execute our recovery plan with extra force. ”