The Department has been involved in a number of different projects.
Correlation between visits to the Wadden Islands and development of tourism on the coast
The mainland of the Wadden nature reserve attracts a relatively small number of Dutch tourists compared with the number of people visiting the islands. Compared with the German coastal region, the Dutch Wadden Coast is barely developed at all, nor is there much tourist information available about the area. Our Department is conducting research into how to increase the appeal of the coast among a wider group of people.
Impact of the World Heritage Site nomination on tourism in the Wadden Sea Region
When the Wadden Sea was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was expected that this would boost tourism in the area. This status was actively promoted in Germany, and travel providers have even developed special World Heritage Site package deals. However, our research into the effect of the nomination showed that many visitors in the Netherlands were unaware of the region’s status as a World Heritage Site. The results of the survey were used to design future scenarios for the development of tourism in the northern part of the Netherlands.
Operationalising the term “sustainable tourism” in the Wadden Sea Region
On its designation of the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage Site, UNESCO recommended that the Netherlands and Germany pursue a strategy for the sustainable development of tourism in the Wadden Sea Region. We have investigated how sustainability is interpreted by the various tourist categories (businesses and government) and have concluded that this interpretation is by no means unambiguous. Nature preservation organisations also tend to have different perspectives on sustainable tourism. The research results were incorporated into the international draft of the UNESCO recommendation.
Natural assets of the Wadden Sea in relation to the development of tourism and recreation
One of the members of the Research Group, Akke Folmer, has researched the role of natural assets in tourism in the Wadden Sea Region as part of her PhD thesis, concerning the role of wildlife in the locality of visitors to the region. Her research is based in part on a large-scale survey conducted in 2011 in conjunction with the Department among participants in nature excursions.
Tourism development and management of the Wadden Sea
Large numbers of visitors can pose a threat to vulnerable natural areas, and besides, some tourists undermine the assets that make the area appealing to other tourists. Good organisation is essential when it comes to managing the region with any degree of effectiveness. During 2012 and 2013, we conducted research into the need for tourist development in the region as a whole and the management objectives based on the applicable policy, and examined to what extent they are compatible with one another.