Remarketing the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Wadden area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site exactly 10 years ago. This puts the Wadden in the same class as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and the Grand Canyon in the United States. As the largest tidal area in the world it is absolutely ‘irreplaceable’. This beautiful area, which we share with our German and Danish neighbours, is incredibly unique and it is up to us to preserve it for future generations. So spectacular - and relatively close by- it’s an absolute joy to discover. Go on a journey with us through a vast and rugged area formed by the elements and ever changing. From coast to island, unique, unspoiled and serene all at the same time. Experience the force of ebb and flow.

Together with businesses and nature and heritage organisations, the three destination marketing organisations in Friesland, Groningen and North Holland are working on a campaign for the Dutch area of the Wadden. In the next six years we will be presenting a number of related story lines via our website and app. These stories will put the spotlight on some of the less known, but certainly not less amazing, tourist spots on both the islands and along the Wadden coast making them easier to find and book. Various routes and packages help bring these stories to life. In 2019 and 2020 the World Heritage Site, Water Heritage, Taste the Wad and Military Heritage will be opening up for both the domestic and international market. The next years will focus on Inspiring Landscapes (including Art and Religious  Heritage), Agriculture, Fishing and Darkness. We’d love to tell you more.

Wadden area

But we’d much rather take you with us to the cosy villages, the ancient maritime cultural landscape and the stunning unspoiled nature. The Dutch part of the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage Site is so much more than just beaches, dikes and sea. It is a landscape full of stories, unexpected and breathtaking places, attractive monuments, impressive Roman churches and centuries-old waterways and waterworks, charming little restaurants where seafood and salty local greens are served and intriguing Land Art with a special relationship to a place or the landscape. A whimsical, primordial area linked together by meandering bicycle and walking routes. Scribes, poets and (travelogue) writers with a love for tranquillity, wide-open spaces, nature and culture are guaranteed to encounter an abundance of inspiration for their literary creations. 

World Heritage Site

In 2009 the Wadden Sea became a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the only natural World Heritage Site in the Netherlands. The dynamics of this enormous tidal area played a major role in receiving this prestigious award. Each ebb and flow transforms this landscape of gullies, creeks and sandbars. The Wadden Sea is also a beloved oasis for millions of birds and fish with an abundance of pioneer species residing along the Wad's edge. And the endless views are simply divine! A true paradise for nature lovers and those seeking peace and tranquillity. 

More about World Heritage

Water heritage

The Wadden area is also the birthplace of the waterworks for which the Netherlands is internationally renowned. Here you’ll discover the origin of Dutch Delta Design with countless traces along the coast and on the islands. From the terps and mounds to the Afsluitdijk and the Fish Migration River currently being built. And then there’s the infinite number of polders, sluices, pumps and dams. The area is a history book of the relationship between man and the sea. But this history book focuses on the future. The islands in particular are a step ahead in the transition to a sustainable and circular economy. You’ll be spoiled for choice with all the interesting things on offer! Which will you choose to write about?

More about Water Heritage

Taste of the Wad

You can enjoy the Taste of the Wad in a number of different ways. The Wadden area’s culinary delights have risen to a much higher level. More and more chefs are using local products (look for the Waddengoud label) and incorporating the characteristic salty flavours in their dishes. If you want a little more adventure then why not try your hand at hunting and gathering (with a guide) your own meal of seafood and salty veggies? Experts in more and more places are now organising ‘wad-eat-excursions’ and local sustainable fishermen, some of them using traditional sustainable techniques, are happy as clams to have guests on board. And don’t forget the cheese, mustard, jam, beer and many other tasty treats. Come and take a little taste?

Military heritage - Atlantic Wall

Because of its open connection to the sea the Wad is one of the ports of entry to the Netherlands. The large amount of military heritage that was built throughout the centuries to defend the border is proof of this. From the entrenchments in Oost-Groningen and the casemates of the Afsluitdijk to the Napoleonic Fort Kijkduin in Den Helder. Much of this heritage is now accessible to visitors, including ten locations of the German Atlantic Wall, the five-thousand kilometre defence line along Western Europe’s coast and bunkers and strongholds on the islands have been unearthed. Information centres for the Atlantic Wall in the Wadden area will be opening this spring in Den Helder, Kornwerderzand and Termunten.

Q&As World Heritage Site mass tourism

How will you handle the natural values and the vulnerability of the area?

We work closely together with nature organisations in the Wadden area; and for the Wadden Sea itself we only accept offers from providers who adhere to the agreements made regarding sustainable joint use (hospitality in the Wad and the Code of Conduct for Wad enthusiasts). The locations mentioned on our website and in the app are agreed upon with nature organisations and comply with the guidelines from, among others, ‘Rust voor vogels, ruimte voor mensen’ (Peace for birds, space for people). We also promote sustainable management with the entrepreneurs we collaborate with. The target group our campaign focuses on expects sustainable and responsible tourism offers.

Will the Wadden area become a second Giethoorn or Volendam and be completely overrun by tourists?

Our campaign is geared towards small-scale tourism. Our goal is not to get as many tourists as possible to visit the area. We want to reach a target group who will treat the extraordinary values of this area with respect and inform them about locations and (new) offers so that the tourists visiting are distributed more evenly over the entire Wadden area, and so that the coast can also benefit from the World Heritage Site status and the attraction of the Wad with its fantastic nature and culture.