The Netherlands doesn’t want you to call it Holland anymore

Going Dutch.
Going Dutch.
Image: Reuters/Robin van Lonkhuijsen/United Photos
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The government of the Netherlands has a message for the world: There’s more to our country than just Holland.

To ensure nobody forgets it, the country says it will stop using Holland as its nickname come January. The move, which comes ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the Eurovision Song Contest (which the Netherlands will host this year), is part of a €200,000 ($223,000) rebranding campaign to update the country’s international image. It’s also apparently a way to draw tourists to other parts of the Netherlands as it battles overtourism.

The name “Holland” refers to just two of the 12 provinces in the country. Those are North Holland, where Amsterdam is located, and South Holland, home to cities such as Rotterdam and The Hague. Together they make up the area known as Holland. In the 19th century, it was the center of the nation’s economy and wealth, becoming shorthand for the entire country. The moniker remains in use today—including by the Netherlands itself. The country’s official tourism website, as of now anyway, is Holland.com.

But beginning in January, the Netherlands wants its companies, universities, embassies, and ministries to refer to the country by its official title. “It is a little strange to promote only a small part of the Netherlands abroad, that is, only Holland,” a spokesperson for the foreign ministry told the news agency EFE. The country has also unveiled a new logo that dispenses with the traditional tulip in favor of a stylized “NL,” which it believes will be good for exports and attracting investment.

But the switch from Holland to the Netherlands is apparently about more than just giving other provinces more recognition. It’s part of new tourism strategy, according to EFE. Presumably rebranding from Holland to the Netherlands reminds tourists there are provinces beyond those with Holland in the name, helping promote travel to less frequently visited areas of the country.

The country is seeking ways to control the overwhelming influx of tourists. In 2018, the Netherlands received about 18 million visitors. The entire population of the Netherlands is just over 17 million. Forecasts for 2030 reach as high as 42 million tourists annually visiting the country.

Many go to the same locations within the region of Holland, such as Amsterdam, choking the city and creating problems for locals. ”To be able to control visitor flows, we must take action now,” the Guardian reported, quoting a Netherlands tourist board policy document earlier this year. “Instead of destination promotion it’s time for destination management.”