On 27 June 2020, the first-ever coordinated visitor survey covering the entire destination of the Wadden Sea World Heritage in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands was kicked off. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the survey started with a delay of three months, therefore the spring season will now be surveyed in 2021.
“We want to provide tourism stakeholders with important information on the preferences, activities and attitudes of holiday guests”, explains Christiane Gätje, project manager at the National Park Authority. “We have conducted surveys in the past in the Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea regions, but never simultaneously in the entire Wadden Sea region. This is a novelty and allows us to some extent to compare the data between the different regions. We are very curious of the results.”
The anonymous survey asks guests where they received their information from about the holiday location and the Wadden Sea, and the motives for their travel decision. It provides information on what kind of tourist and nature experiences are popular and how they are rated, as well as visitors’ perception of Wadden Sea World Heritage, nature protection, and responsible travel.
The previous coordinated surveys in the German Wadden Sea regions in 2013 and 2017 have used the paper-pencil-method which addressed visitors in accommodations. The surveys showed that important reasons for visiting the Wadden Sea were the protection as a National Park and the designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Therefore over 90% of the visitors regarded unspoiled nature and nature protection as an important or very important aspect for their visit.
The current survey is conducted by the NIT (Institute for Tourism and Spa Research) in cooperation with ETFI (The European Tourism Futures Institute) in the framework of the Interreg project "PROWAD LINK - Protect & Prosper" and in close cooperation with the project partners led by the National Park Authority Wadden Sea Schleswig-Holstein. The survey will be carried out until October 2020 and continued in April-June 2021. The questionnaires are available in selected accommodations via QR code and conducted through face-to-face interviews.
The Interreg VB North Sea Region Programme project PROWAD LINK aims to unlock the potential of natural areas as a driver for jobs and sustainable development. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are approached to develop nature as a brand to create benefits for both, SMEs and the environment. 14 project partners in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom, led by the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, working with interested SMEs will use the “nature-business-benefit-cycle” concept to develop new, sustainable products and offers in the pilot regions of the Wadden Sea (DK, D, NL), Geiranger Fjord (NO), Wash & North Norfolk Coast (UK). The 3-year project is co-funded by and carried out in the framework of the Interreg North Sea Region Programme under the Programme Priority 1 “Thinking Growth”. The programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the European Union.