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Corona virus COVID-19 update

The developments regarding the worldwide spread of the Coronavirus also has a big impact on The Hague.

Update 16 March

The evolving Coronavirus outbreak has an impact on the health of people affected by it. The Corona crisis has major consequences: in the world, in the Netherlands and in The Hague. It is therefore necessary to urgently take all the possible measures to stop the outbreak of the virus. The Corona crisis also has major economic consequences.

The Hague & Partners clearly sees this impact in the working fields of The Hague Marketing Bureau, The Hague Convention Bureau and The Hague Business Agency. We are keeping a close eye on these developments, we are sharing the concerns about the economic implications with our partners, moreover we are looking at how we can ensure the fastest possible economic recovery as soon as this situation is under control.

Visitors economy

Tourism in The Hague has come to a halt. Since the first Corona case in the Netherlands on February 27, the city has witnessed a drop of 35% in hotel stays in the first week of March compared to the same period a year earlier. The past week will look even worse. With museums, attractions, catering, and theaters now all being closed, at least through April 6, the months of March and April will be an all-time low for the visitor economy. Air traffic with various countries has been halted. This means an absolute stop on incoming visits. Now that everyone is called upon to work from home and to maintain ‘social distancing’, the local, regional and national visits are also lost. The Corona crisis has major implications for the various activities of THMB:

The Hague Info Store (THiS)
THiS, located in the Central Library at Spui, has been closed since March 13, at least until April 6. It is not possible to provide physical service to the (few) visitors in the city at this time. Also, no more sales of souvenirs and local products can take place in the store. This is normally the busiest period of the year, at the start of the flower bulb season and the opening of the Keukenhof. There are posters on the windows and doors of the store with 1) text and explanation of our accessibility by mail, telephone and WhatsApp and 2) a QR code referring to denhaag.com, which prominently features up-to-date information about the coronavirus (https://denhaag.com/nl/corona-virus-covid-19).

Visibility in the city
Due to the cancellation of all congresses and business events, the Hospitality Desk will not be used, resulting in a big decrease in customer contacts in The Hague. Several events were also canceled, in which the city hosts (volunteers) of the Embassy of The Hague would have played a role. Coming week we will be in talks with the NS, Dutch Railways, to investigate whether we can provide staff to the unmanned stand at the Central Station. In this way we can at least be physically present at the station and provide the few visitors that are coming to The Hague with information.

Campaigns
As there is no point in running conversion campaigns right now, all current (national and international) campaigns and pending campaigns have been put on hold (such as the Easter Campaign and Culture by the Sea). Where possible, campaigns will still be executed later, however the momentum for some of them will be lost (for example Easter). Preparations are ongoing for the Press Trip Night Out Scheveningen (in April), but it will probably be canceled, as the time for inviting journalists is not ideal at the moment. This also has an effect on the launch of the opening of the beach season.

With international press trips being canceled, the annual media value target becomes under pressure. We will make a selection of important international media outlets and we will let them experience The Hague through VR from a distance, in order to remain top-of-mind and relevant to the media in this way. We will also put extra efforts in social media through the iconic images of The Hague (along the lines of: "you can't visit us now, that's why our icons are visiting you!").

Once the Corona crisis is over, we will have to accelerate local economic recovery in terms of expenditures and employment in The Hague. This requires a large-scale campaign in the Netherlands and neighboring countries, comparable to the successful “Duik in Den Haag” campaign that we have run a few years ago. This will require additional budget. In order to give the tourism sector a strong boost and to show the market that we are shoulder to shoulder we will need to deploy large-scale marketing & communication efforts.

Tour operators
The ITB, the world's largest trade fair for the travel industry in Berlin, was canceled in early March. This fair is extremely important for tapping into our existing contacts and attracting new leads. In the follow-up phase of this fair we always get requests for fam trips for the current and next year. We are now trying to secure appointments by telephone and via Skype. On the occasion of ITB we have run an out-of-home campaign in Berlin. Although this campaign has led to numerous shares and engagements and was experienced as positive, we did not manage to reach the tour operators. In the short term we will let the main tour operators have The Hague VR Experience.

Last week Delta Airlines’ Fam trip was canceled. This was an important lead in attracting more visitors from the US. The Seatrade fair in Miami is postponed until further notice. This has an effect on generating leads in small cruise ships for 2021 and beyond.

For later this year, when the Corona crisis is hopefully over, we are exploring the possibility of visiting other trade fairs to generate leads. We are also looking at whether we can expand our traditional Tourist for a Day in September with Dutch/Flemish tour operators to a three-day event with the addition of the international market. Comparable to the Global Travel Trade Show that we successfully organized in The Hague last year, in collaboration with Delft and the NBTC.

Congresses

The Corona crisis has a major impact on the conference market now and in the near future, with congresses being canceled and/or postponed over the past weeks. The global meetings industry is being impacted hard; at the moment, no meetings can take place at all. Moreover, the Corona crisis has long-term implications for congresses and business events acquisition.

The Hague Convention Bureau has made an inventory of canceled conferences with its partners. Apart from the current situation that meetings of more than 100 people may not take place – at least until April 6th – it appears that conference organizers are canceling a large numbers of congresses for the coming months as well.

We already know that 16 congresses with an economic value of 14 million euros have been canceled for this year (or have been postponed to next year). This concerns conferences where The Hague Convention Bureau is or has been actively involved in the acquisition phase. In addition, many corporate events (that often take place all year round) have been canceled.

The employees of The Hague Convention Bureau are putting major efforts into relationship management with event planners, partners and associations to prevent cancellations and to realize possible shifts in order to allow these congresses to take place at a later date in order to keep the business in The Hague. The consequence of this is that due to shifts, other potential prospects of future events are also under pressure due to a lack of availability (domino effect).

Needless to say that numerous cancellations and shifts of international trade fairs also have serious consequences for the overall acquisition and the associated targets for the coming years. Trade fairs such as IMEX Europe and the international networking events, such as the ICCA France-Benelux meeting, have been canceled.

Due to travel restrictions, the entire acquisition strategy for the USA (in 2019 the USA market accounted for almost 20% of the total economic estimated impact (EEI)) cannot be executed until further notice. Also sales missions in Europe cannot be carried out until further notice.

In addition to acquisition, the marketing activities aimed at converting leads have virtually come to a halt and substantial investments will have to be made once the Corona crisis has passed. Not only to make up for the current losses, but also to catch up to secure and grow the EEI for the years to come. In addition to the current losses due to cancellations, the Economic Estimated Impact of congresses acquired for the coming years is expected to be lower this year.

International companies

The Corona crisis has a major impact on the global economy. Depending on the duration of the crisis, a global recession is highly likely. The state of the global economy has a direct effect on the willingness of companies to invest in general, and in particular doing foreign investments. The Corona virus and (as a result of this) the current low oil prices and the situation on the stock markets has an impact on Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and therefore on the activities of The Hague Business Agency.

The well-respected and most independent source for FDI (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) now expects FDI to increase the drop from 5 to 10% for 2020-2021, where they previously expected a 5% increase (see link).

For THBA, the situation means a decrease in numbers of generated leads. (International) travel has been put to a halt. Important meetings, where we normally gain new leads, have all been canceled: Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, BOND conference London, Collision Toronto, OTC Houston, IBA Annual Arbitration Day Istanbul, to name some.

The conversion of leads, which implies the successful landing of foreign companies, in The Hague is currently on hold. Because there is no travel, no fact-finding trips can take place. This was already the case for the Chinese market since earlier this year, but is now the case worldwide. Fact-finding trips can only take place again when the Corona crisis is over.

In the coming period, the focus of THBA's business advisors will be on strengthening Investor relations with the foreign companies that are already in The Hague. It is important to keep these companies in The Hague. There are also opportunities here for expanding their activities and investments. In addition, we will look further into collaborations with the local service providers (lawyers, banks, etc.) to find more leads. Furthermore, the data-research efforts are being strengthened in order to obtain more leads based on public sources. We would then be able to work with them when the Corona crisis is over. And finally, we focus on our online presence. We do this by launching a new website, boosting content via social media and through campaigns on Baidu in China and via Google in the rest of the world. All this to keep The Hague top-of-mind as a place where we work on a better, safer and more just world.

Image
The Hague skyline

Update 13 March

The government of the Netherlands has decided that gatherings of more than 100 people have to be cancelled until 1 April, museums and concert venues in our city have to close their doors until 6 April.
Earlier this month it already became clear that planned conferences were being cancelled and that it is a lot more quiet in hotels, restaurants, bars and shops in the city. This was the result of restrictions on (inter)national travel.

The Hague & Partners follows the official guidelines of the Dutch government and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and is in close contact with our partners and clients. We recognize the concerns that they have and we will remain at their disposal to answer questions. We aim to support our partners, for instance, by discussing what possible extra efforts we can take when this crisis is over to accelerate our economic recovery.

  • Visitors

The Hague Marketing Bureau supports hotels, museums, attractions and other partners in the city to the best of its capabilities. We will remain in contact with tour operators and international press via phone and digital means of communication. We are aiming to keep The Hague as a destination on top of mind among potential visitors and we are preparing campaigns that will help convert this attention when the Corona crisis is over.

  • Conventions

The Hague Convention Bureau is supporting its congress partners. We are pushing strongly with organizers of congresses that are being cancelled at the moment, to move their event to a later date in order to keep the business in the city.

  • Press

All press can contact International Press Officer Stefan Heger: +31 6 86 82 92 05 / s.heger@thehague.com.