A majority of residents in eight Zeeland municipalities support tourism, but this support is not particularly high, according to new research by HZ Kenniscentrum Kusttoerisme. (HZ KCKT) On the coast, residents experience more negative than positive effects of tourism. Just over half of residents in the four participating coastal municipalities fear that tourism will make things increasingly crowded and cause friction. More than 5,500 people participated in the survey.

For the first time in 2019, the survey examined support for tourism among residents. Commissioned by the province of Zeeland and in cooperation with eight Zeeland municipalities, HZ KCKT conducted another survey in late 2022. During the Kennisupdate LIVE event on Feb. 16, the knowledge center presented the initial results. This week, the full report was published. It contains results for four coastal municipalities (Noord-Beveland, Schouwen-Duiveland, Sluis, Veere) and four inland municipalities (Borsele, Kapelle, Reimerswaal, Tholen). Because only eight municipalities participated, it proved impossible to paint a provincial picture.

To what extent do residents support tourism?

Support for tourism scores a 3.3 on the coast and 3.5 inland on a scale of 1 to 5. So there is support in both regions, but it is generally not overwhelming. Moreover, support for tourism is slightly greater inland than on the coast. Both on the coast and inland, about two-thirds of residents believe that their municipality should remain a tourist destination. Inland, a similar group agrees with the statement "I support tourism and want it to remain important in my municipality. On the coast, just over half of residents share that opinion. Inland, a slight majority of residents believe that tourism should be actively encouraged. On the coast, only a third do.

What effects do residents experience from tourism?

One positive effect is that there are more shopping and catering establishments due to tourism, according to four out of five residents on the coast. Inland, just over half of residents experience this. Also, both on the coast and inland, more than two-thirds of residents believe that tourism strengthens the local economy. This makes the strengthening of the local economy in inland areas the most perceived positive impact of tourism.

The most frequently mentioned negative impact in coastal communities is traffic problems. Four in five coastal residents feel that tourism contributes to this, followed by an increase in litter. Inland, litter is at the top of the list. More than two in five residents there think tourism has increased it.

How has the development been since 2019?

In the municipalities of Tholen, Veere and Sluis, where the knowledge center also conducted research in 2019, support for tourism and perceived positive impact has decreased, while perceived negative impact has increased. It is plausible that the increase in tourism has played a role in this, the research shows.

How can support for tourism be increased?

A number of governments are already working hard to reduce the negative impacts of tourism. This research confirms that this helps promote support. The research also shows that too few people know what municipalities are doing about tourism and what the positive effects of tourism are. Creating awareness about the positive effects and commitment to increasing them will promote support for tourism.

The full report (in Dutch) can be downloaded here.