Visitor experience and landscape preferences in the trilateral Wadden Sea region


Two studies undertaken by Wolfs Company have just been published by the Waddenacademie (see the newspost). Both of these studies harnessed the power of social media to identify patterns in nature and landscape appreciation in the Wadden Sea region. By exploring and spatially modeling the importance of natural ecosystems and landscapes for cultural and recreational values, both studies aimed to address an important information gap for the integrated management of the Wadden Sea region. Social media can provide a unique insights into both visitor preferences and behavior compared to traditional research methods and has the potential to optimize management practices.

In 2020 we conducted a pilot study that focused on the Dutch Wadden Island of Terschelling. In this pilot, the social media platforms of Flickr and Twitter were used to investigate the preferences of visitors and local residents with regard to landscape appreciation and recreational use of natural landscapes on the island. The pilot on Terschelling provides a detailed look at these aspects on the island level.

In 2021 we expanded upon this pilot study by examining which factors attracts locals and visitors from further afield to the trilateral Wadden Sea region in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. Using open source data obtained from the social media platform Flickr, we investigated which factors determine landscape appreciation and visitor experience. This region-wide study also examines differences in landscape valuation between islands. In conjunction with this report, an interactive online application (available here) has been developed that allows users to digitally explore the region and learn more about the insights developed through public social media data on the importance of natural landscapes for recreation and tourism.