In the second of our blogs looking at how Dorset’s cultural organisations might tap into the European visitors market, we look at the Dutch market – what they like, what they expect, and what attracts them.

The National Coastal Tourism Academy in Dorset has funding from Discover England to look at how to increase international visitors to various parts of England’s coast, including the south.  Their research has shown that, for the Dutch, culture in all forms (arts, landscape, heritage) is an important reason for visiting the UK, as is ‘the countryside/natural beauty’ – good news for the heritage and landscape attractions in the county!

Given this attraction, why is Dorset therefore not the go-to destination for our friends from Holland?

One issue is that most Dutch visitors (65%) travel to Britain by ferry – and then prefer to stay close to the ports where they land.  But with so much in Dorset to attract them it is worth considering the channels through which they can be reached.

The biggest influence in their choice of destination by far is television (37%), with personal experience a close second (30%) – and close behind that is the internet – 26%.  Both these latter two are easily accessible, even if featuring on mainstream TV in the Netherlands is not.

Local history and culture is key for European visitors

As with French visitors, visiting castles and stately homes, and learning about local history and culture is at the top of the Dutch list. Coastal walks and sampling local food and drink are also important. And they are more likely to enjoy local markets than their French or German counterparts.

European visitors look at view over Chesil beach to St. Catherines Chapel

View over Chesil beach to St. Catherines Chapel

The average spend by the Dutch on a break of 405 days is £346 – more than the French (but less than the Germans who spend nearly £100 more over the same period). The NCTA research shows that Dutch visitors prefer small scale hotels, full of charm and character, in a countryside village.

An ideal coastal package could therefore be:

  • a traditional B&B or small hotel in a traditional village
  • opportunities to visit castles and stately homes
  • museums that describe the local history and culture
  • plenty of places to eat local food in a traditional setting

‘Welkom – we helpen u graag – vraag alstublieft!

The Dutch love eating in gastropubs apparently. They love the traditional atmosphere and consider the food good value for money. Menus (or signs) that say ‘Welkom – we helpen u graag – vraag alstublieft!’ (Welcome – we are happy to help – please ask!) are a good way to open the door to building a relationship that can lead to upselling.  Local food producers will be glad to know that the Dutch love the traditional Dorset cream tea as well!

Read more how Dorset’s cultural organisations might tap into French and German visitor markets – what they like, what they expect, and what attracts them.

To learn more about the cultural delights of Dorset, coastal and otherwise, visit Dorset Ambassador, a free online training tool. And look out for the launch of England’s Coast Ambassador, which will detail the needs of international visitors and what they would like to see and do in your region.

To learn more about the NCTA’s England’s Coast project and how you could benefit, visit


Illustration by Bethany Lord