How effective are nature excursions in the Dutch Wadden Sea region?

From the Dutch Wadden towns Den Helder to Termunterzijl, local entrepreneurs, nature organisations, regional marketing organisations and Wadden authorities organised a wide range of experiences during "Day of the Wad". They celebrated that the Wadden Sea acquired the World Heritage Status on 26th of June 2009. However, in order to structure visitor flows to the northern coastal area, more knowledge is required of the motives and needs of potential Wadden Sea lovers. ETFI will measure this summer how effective the excursions are which are offered by the Wadden Association. 

World Heritage Status encourages cooperation 

High expectations about the positive impact of the World Heritage Status on tourism in the Wadden area were initially not observed. The world-renowned status among residents and visitors remained low for a long time. The nature of the Wadden Sea was for large groups of visitors not the main reason for visiting the Wadden Sea islands. Thus, there was not an increase in the number of tourists. The status did inspire cooperation. Local entrepreneurs, together with nature organisations, developed products that made it possible for the visitor to meet the unique values of the World Heritage Site Wadden Sea.

Inexhaustible creativity 

You do not have to worry about the range of experience activities in the Wadden Sea area. Local entrepreneurs, residents and representatives of nature organisations strive to work together. They have  an inexhaustible source of creativity to visualise the sometimes rebellious Wadden Sea nature. It is noteworthy that despite the long tradition of nature excursions in the Wadden Sea area, since 1972 the Wadden Association organises mudflat hiking tours on Terschelling, knowledge about the effect of these excursions is not or hardly present. It is also unclear whether the present offer matches the needs of visitors of the Wadden Sea area. To enlarge this knowledge, we will review the visitors of the Wadden Sea area and the participants of the various nature excursions.

Sustainable tourism strategy

The three Wadden Sea countries of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark state that a sustainable tourism strategy must contain the following elements:    

  • Collaboration between the various stakeholders  
  • Joint responsibility for the protection of natural values  
  • High quality tourism with low impact  
  • Contribution to regional development 

Optimum matching of supply and demand with regard to the products created for the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site is indispensable. Our research will contribute to this. In autumn we will announce the first results.