8 policy recommendations on how to synergise tourism and landscape

On the 11th of January 2018, Jasper Heslinga has publicly defended his PhD dissertation on “Synergetic tourism-landscape interactions”. Often, the emphasis of these interactions lies in either nature protection or social-economic development. However, this dissertation specifically looks at the possibilities for synergy between the two.

What constrains and enables synergies?

Synergies are about striving for win-win situations that involve balance. Acknowledging synergies can assist regions in becoming more resilient when coping with future social and ecological change. This research focuses on the question which factors constrain synergetic interactions between tourism and landscape and which factors actually enable this. The research shows:

  • How policy has evolved over the years
  • How public opinion has changed
  • How governance is arranged.

Interactions between tourism and landscapes: Terschelling as a case study

The analyses in the thesis relate to Terschelling, an island that is part of UNESCO Heritage Wadden Sea. The island is known for its natural beauty, but it is therefore also a very popular tourist destination. In short, on this island, both the interests of social-economic development (through tourism) and nature protection are strongly represented.

Recommendations for policymakers for effective landscape planning

Based on the results and conclusions that were drawn from the dissertation, a series of recommendations could be provided for policy makers and planners that are working on the intersection between tourism and landscape:

  1. Use content analysis as a tool to understand a historical institutional context
  2. Try to strive for integral policy aimed at synergetic interactions
  3. Involve a wide range of stakeholders to find support, but also to incorporate new and innovative ideas
  4. Use the influence-interest matrix as an instrument to analyse stakeholders and a tool for making strategic choices for dealing with each different type of stakeholders
  5. Aim for open decision-making processes and collectively develop a ‘narrative’ that a stakeholder feels connected to
  6. Provide a clear vision for the future to offer more certainties on future policy directions …
  7. …but also allow for flexibility in the local implementation for developing initiative by civil society and entrepreneurs that contribute to the innovation of a destination when dealing with changing circumstances.
  8. Dare to experiment to prevent or even breach a stalemate in decision-making, to find support by ‘doing’ and to learn from mistakes.

If you are interested in deeper insights into those factors that constrain and enable synergy between tourism and landscape, contact our expert in sustainable tourism and spatial planning & governance, Jasper Heslinga.