The sector of leisure and hospitality in the Northern Netherlands

The Northern Netherlands has a wonderful combination of appealing aspects that make it a tourism hotspot.

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The cities are lively and filled with independent businesses, the countryside and coastline are world renowned (UNESCO heritage!), and there is significant collaboration between local and regional government, and business in creating a varied calendar of events in each Province.  

The city of Leeuwarden was thrust into the spotlight by being European Capital of Culture 2018, which resulted in the city turning each euro invested into an ‘output’ of €2,20. Capitalising on the success of this year, the city of Leeuwarden has recently launched an open-source tourism website, where companies may list themselves and their events for free. The website will be available in Dutch, English, Frisian and German. Across the city, significant efforts are being put into creating an ongoing calendar of events to attract people to both Leeuwarden, and Friesland more generally. Luckily for hoteliers in the city, NHL Stenden Hotel School continues to train exceptionally high-quality students in the world of hospitality- making a ready supply for those hoping to capitalise on Leeuwarden’s new heightened profile.  

It’s not just Leeuwarden and Friesland, though, the provinces of both Groningen and Drenthe have also both seen huge rises in tourist numbers. Drenthe is, in particular, becoming increasingly popular with tourists from China, to the extent that the province has opened up its own ‘tourist embassy’ in the country. Another tourist hotspot for Drenthe is Germany- and marketing efforts to draw more German tourists have been very successful. Indeed, Drenthe welcomed around 1.8 million visitors in 2017, who were drawn to the UNESCO world heritage ‘hunebedden’- or stone-age relics- as well as cities and towns such as Assen, Emmen, Meppel and Hoogeveen.  
Groningen’s tourist numbers have grown too, and with recent efforts to revitalise the area around the Grote Markt, this looks set to continue- especially with large festivals such as Noorderzon bringing tens of thousands of national and international visitors to the city several times per year.  

It’s not just tourists, either, with all three northern provinces having successful leisure industries that draw people from across the Netherlands. There are several restaurants that have been awarded a Michelin star (or more than one) across each of the provinces: from Koriander in Drachten, Friesland (1*), to De Groene Lantaarn in Zuidwolde, Drenthe (2*), to Herberg Onder de Linden in Aduard, Groningen (1*).  

According to the UWV (the Dutch working agency), there are at least 850 vacant working roles within hospitality in the city of Groningen alone- and efforts from government agencies in collaboration with restaurants, hotels, and bars have led to such events as the BaanBorrel, where, thanks to the two universities in the city of Groningen, the largest bar in Europe was packed with eager staff-to-be.  

Those hoping to open a business in the leisure and hospitality sector in the Northern Netherlands may turn to a number of groups dedicated to fostering new business: such as the Horeca Groningen, which provides a central place to exchange ideas and post job listings, the Horeca Nederland Leeuwarden chapter, and Drenthe chapter. Likewise, the chamber of commerce (in Dutch: Kamer van Koophandel, or KVK) can provide advice, support, and assistance for those wishing to start a company in the hospitality sector. They have offices in Groningen, Leeuwarden, and Emmen

Companies and jobs in leisure and hospitality