How new policy has transformed tourism in the German Wadden Sea area

The Wadden Sea area is known for its invaluable and indispensable significance for contemporary and future generations. Our Wadden Sea specialists have fulfilled numerous destination research projects in which they put their knowledge into action to ensure that the Wadden Sea region is a more resilient tourism destination. In this blog, we give you an insight into how tourism in the German part of the Wadden Sea area developed.

History of Wadden Sea

Centuries ago, the Wadden Sea area was one of the richest in Europe. Throughout the centuries, a great part of the area gradually became reclaimed. This was needed in order to secure the land from stormy weather and high tides and to cultivate the land for the manufacturing of crops and pasturage. In the coast located towns, fishery played a very important role and intensive commerce took place between different population groups. This ensured the fact that many people settled in the Wadden Sea area. It is even stated that the Wadden Sea area has been overpopulated in earlier times.

The German Wadden Sea

In the 60’s and 70’s, the German mainland part of the Wadden Sea area increasingly shifted to a different use of land. This, as a result of several negative factors taking place in recent decades in traditional sectors, whilst the Dutch mainland remained behind and now faces a more or less impasse situation. Since the 60’s of last century, the use of land in the mainland part of the German Wadden Sea area gradually focused on the development of large-scale tourism and leisure as an answer to the effects that arose in traditional sectors such as agriculture and fishery. Sectors that were important for the local population throughout the centuries.

Necessity to focus on other sectors

A wide range of farmsteads and fisheries were negatively influenced by the following factors, amongst others:

  • Growing effects of the specialisation in monocultures
  • Mechanisation
  • Scaling-up of business processes
  • Overfishing
  • New rules and regulations for agriculture and fisheries
  • One-sided orientation on a specific sector

Small and medium-sized farmsteads did not have the resources to cope with the increasing competition and changes and therefore left their farms. This ensured that more and more stakeholders saw the necessity to transform to a different, new and more profitable sector. In this case, the leisure and tourism sector became more important in that time.

Leisure and tourism development in the German Wadden Sea area

German port towns and the hinterland transformed into touristic seaside resorts primarily for the working class. They became a counter destination for the expensive destinations located on the German Wadden Sea islands. On this mainland coast, Norden-Norddeich is by far the most visited destination. This municipality, with approximately 25.200 inhabitants, yearly receives about 300.000 tourists that together spend 1.7 million overnight stays.

Tourism innovations and developments

The local government, together with a tourism development manager and the location population, developed various facilities in the 60’s and 70’s in order to stimulate tourism and leisure. The local community was incited to develop touristic and recreational activities and facilities such as camping sites, bungalow parks, bed & breakfasts, leisure centres, and multifarious sports facilities. Yields were invested in a fund that was meant for the creation of a tourism organisation that aimed at promoting Norden-Norddeich and the hinterland among a wider public. Currently, Norden-Norddeich is a mature tourist destination with a rich spectrum of touristic-recreational activities and facilities, and whereby the destination constantly strives for innovations and developments.

In our next blog, interesting tourism development facts about the mainland of the German Wadden Sea area will be revealed.