TRS.20.030 – Harnessing tourism for the transition towards National Parks 2.0

Route: Towards resilient societies

Cluster question: 002 What do humans and nature mean to each other and what is the ideal relationship between the two?

National Parks in the Netherlands are relatively small and protection-centred, and only few have a clear identity. A parliamentarian motion from 2014 held that (re-)branding the parks would provide opportunities for business, help spread the pressure of tourism, and increase people’s appreciation of nature. High standards of service, natural quality, experience and accessibility were deemed essential for strong National Park brands. The motion’s ideas were further developed in the programme ‘Towards world-class National Parks’. Central elements are 1) connecting nature and cultural heritage, and 2) positioning the current parks as the core areas in broader landscapes that also include towns, private land, farms and other economic activity. Sustainable tourism and recreation are central to this vision. Re-branding and redesigning the National Parks requires the active involvement and support of a wide range of stakeholders, including citizens, farmers, tourism operators and other businesses. Convincing them of the opportunities of the new, enlarged parks has proved to be challenging. Some worry that being incorporated into a National Park will come with regulations and restrict their options; others fear to be overwhelmed by increasing numbers of tourists. The proposed project will map and analyse the many ways in which tourism can (positively and negatively) affect biodiversity and ecological quality; people’s experience of nature; and the local economy: three key issues that the National Parks 2.0 are meant to promote. The mapping will draw on the recently developed joint research agenda of the National Park Bureau and Wageningen University. The analyses will draw on national and international experience and literature. Based on the detailed analyses, the project will engage with stakeholders to determine their scope for action and to co-create strategies to benefit from the re-branded National Park that they live or operate in.


ecological quality, experience, local economy, National Park, tourism


Organisation Wageningen University (WUR)
Name Dr. M.A.J. (Machiel) Lamers