The Netherlands is taking “new year, new you” to another level in 2020. The European country is dropping its nickname – Holland – in favor of its proper name in all dealings going forward. 

Tour boats in a Dutch canal on a sunny day in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.
The Netherlands is losing its nickname in the new year © Sandra Mori / Shutterstock

As The Sydney Morning Herald reported in late December, the move – a €200,000 ($319,000) rebrand that includes a new logo and requires companies, universities, ministries, and embassies to refer to the Netherlands by its official title from now on – is part of a larger initiative to make over the country’s international image and sustainably handle the droves of annual visitors to its shores. 

Though Holland refers to just two provinces, North and South Holland, the paper reports that the nickname was chosen a quarter-century ago for promotional purposes; now, the tourism industry “wants to present the commerce, science and politics of the whole country.” 

Landscape with tulips, traditional dutch windmills and houses near the canal in Zaanse Schans, Netherlands, Europe.
The country's government spent much of 2019 grappling with the issue of overtourism © Olena Z / Shutterstock

The rebranding caps off a year of changes aimed at addressing the Dutch nation’s overtourism concerns. In March, it was announced that tours of Amsterdam’s red-light district would be banned in 2020, and plans to make the city even more bike- and pedestrian-friendly were revealed in the spring and the fall. In May, the tourism board reportedly stated that it would stop actively promoting the country because of overcrowding, and in June, a quirky “Marry an Amsterdammer for a day” initiative was launched as part of a larger “Untourist Movement,” designed to create a more livable city for residents and visitors alike. 

Skaters on the ice in Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht canal on a winter evening.
An increased tourist tax also went into effect January 1 © Victor Lacken / Alamy Stock Photo

And this month, Amsterdam’s tourist tax increased, making it one of Europe's highest. Overnight hotel guests will now pay a flat fee of €3 ($3.25) per person, per night on top of the 7% room rate, while Airbnb guests’ rent will be bumped up by 10% per night. 

According to the Independent, the Dutch tourist board laid out its plan for the coming decade, saying, “To control visitor flow and leverage the opportunities that tourism brings with it, we must act now…. Instead of destination promotion, it is now time for destination management.”

This article was first published January 2020 and updated January 2020

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