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Recreation and Tourism in the Blauwestad - Monitoring and customer research

Bachelorarbeit 2008 71 Seiten

Tourismus - Sonstiges


Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of figures

List of pictures




Problem Statement and Research Questions

Structure of the report

Literature review
1. Monitoring
2. Blauwestad
3. The Toerdata Noord research
4. CBS (Central Bureau for Statistics)

Case study

Monitoring and consumer research in the Blauwestad

1. Research Method
2. Research techniques
3. Research procedure
4. Analysis of the information


1 Place of origin of the respondents
1.1 Country of origin of the respondents.
1.2 Dutch respondents
1.3 Place of origin of respondents in the province of Groningen

2 Information about residents and non-residents
2.1 Living in the area
2.2 Number of years living in the area
2.3 Place of origin of non-residents
2.4 Accommodation
2.5 Distance travelled
2.6 Length of travel
2.7 Conveyance

3 Composition of the group and age
3.1 Group composition
3.2 Age composition

4 Income
4.1 Household status
4.2 Income

5 Source of information
5.1 Source of information Blauwestad

6 Visitors motives
6.1 Visitor motives Blauwestad

7 Activities
7.1 Activities of respondents in the Blauwestad

8 Assessment
8.1 Total assessment of Blauwestad

9 Return of visitors

10 Recommendation of the area
10.1 Yes/No/Maybe
10.2 One-day-trip/several days

11 Improvements
11.1 Improvements in general
11.2 Improvements day tourists/residents
11.3 Improvements Event
11.4 Improvement TRAM
11.5 Improvement CHN
11.6 Comparison to the “Consumentenonderzoek Toerisme 2005”

12 Image of the Blauwestad as a tourist destination
12.1 Image of respondents in the Blauwestad
12.2 Image of the day tourists/residents
12.3 Image of the Event visitors
12.4 Image of TRAM
12.5 Image of CHN
12.6 Comparison to the “Consumentenonderzoek Toerisme 2005”

Answers to Problem Statement and Research Questions
Research Questions
Problem Statement
Limitations of the research

Literature list

Appendix 1
Questionnaire for overnight tourists

Appendix 2
Questionnaire for day tourists and residents

List of Tables

Table 1 - Financing of the Blauwestad

Table 2 - Numbers of the Blauwestad

Table 3 - Comparison between the Blauwestad and Toerdata Noord

Table 4 - Country of Origin

Table 5 - Gender of the respondents

Table 6 - Live in the area

Table 7 - Number of years in the area

Table 8 - Accommodation

Table 9 - Distances travelled

Table 10 - Length of travel

Table 11 - Method of transportation

Table 12 - Composition of the group

Table 13 - Age of the respondents

Table 14 - Household status

Table 15 - Income

Table 16 - Source of information

Table 17 - Visitor motives

Table 18 - Activities

Table 19 - Total assessment

Table 20 - Comparison assessment Blauwestad - “Consumentenonderzoek”

Table 21 - Comparison of day tourists and residents with professionals

Table 22 - Recommendation of the area

Table 23 - One/several days

Table 24 - Points of improvement

Table 25 - Improvements of day tourists and residents

Table 26 - Improvements Event

Table 27 - Improvement TRAM

Table 28 - Improvement CHN

Table 29 - Improvement Blauwestad/”Consumentenonderzoek”

Table 30 - Image in general

Table 31 - Image of day tourists/residents

Table 32 - Image of Event visitors

Table 33 - Image of TRAM

Table 34 - Image of CHN

Table 35 - Comparison of the Image with the “Consumentenonderzoek”

List of figures

Figure 1 - Place of origin of the respondents with focus in the Dutch Provinces

Figure 2 - Place of origin of respondents in the Province Groningen

Figure 3 - Number of years living in the area

Figure 4 - Distance travelled

Figure 5 - Length of travel

Figure 6 - Method of transportation

Figure 7 - Income

Figure 8 - Source of information

Figure 9 - Visitor motives

Figure 10 - Comparison of the activities with the “Consumentenonderzoek”

List of pictures

Picture 1 – Blauwestad

Picture 2 – De Wei Picture 3 – Het Park

Picture 4 – Het Riet

Picture 5 – Sand beach in Midwolda

Picture 6 – Card of Blauwestad


The following report is a customer research about visitors and residents in the Blauwestad area, therefore the title “Recreation and Tourism in the Blauwestad – Monitoring and Customer Research” has been chosen. The following report gives information about visitors to and residents of the Blauwestad, their origin, activities, image, points of improvements, an assessment and other information. The outcome will be compared with the different groups of respondents, as well as with the outcome of the “Consumentenonderzoek Toerisme 2005” made by Toerdata Noord. This report will give a first insight view for the Blauwestad about its visitors and residents. As the title says, monitoring is part of this report but monitoring is a cyclical process which gives the Blauwestad the opportunity to compare the outcomes in this report with outcomes of researches done in the future.


Similar researches have been done by Toerdata Noord in the northern part of the Netherlands, in the provinces of Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe. These researches have been used as a basis for the survey done in the Blauwestad. The author of this report used similar questions to compare the results with each other, but for more information about the visitors and the residents, questions have been added. The purpose is to find out similarities and differences between the two different researches but also between the different groups interviewed. This gives the opportunity to understand the visitors and residents and the possibility to define a target group, which will be important for the marketing strategy.


The first aim is to find out what visitors and residents think about the Blauwestad area, what their activities are, what their image about this region is and others. The second aim is to compare the results with the outcome of Toerdata Noord and also between the different groups interviewed to be able to draw conclusions.

Problem Statement and Research Questions

This focus of this report is to monitor the number of visitors in the Blauwestad area and an analysis of the consumers.

Problem Statement: What is the opinion of recreationists and tourists of the touristic product in the region of and around the Blauwestad?

To answer the Problem Statement, several Research Questions have been developed to answer the Problem Statement.

Research Questions are the following:

1. How many recreationist and tourists are in this area and what sort of development can be seen?
2. Where do the recreationists and tourists come from?
3. What is economic status of the recreationists and the tourists?
4. What are the activities, what is the length of stay, and what is the appreciation of the activities?
5. How much money do they spend in average?
6. How do they know that area?
7. How is the appreciation of the area?

The first question will help in understanding the current situation of the Blauwestad concerning tourism and the expected development. Questions 2 to 7 will give detailed information about the visitors to make it possible defining a target group for the tourist destination of the Blauwestad.

The research done in this report is the first part of a cyclical research. This report has been done in the shoulder season, in the month of June. The next research will be done in the high season, July-August, and another one in the shoulder season of September. Furthermore similar research will be done in about two years and compared with the previous research to see the development of tourism in the Blauwestad.

Two-hundred fifty questionnaires are going to be taken in the whole season, divided into the three above-mentioned seasons. The target for the shoulder season was 80 and 69 questionnaires have been answered.

There are several limitations with this research, such as the time frame. The survey took place in the month of June. Due the fact that this area is very young and still in the development process, the area is relatively unknown in the Netherlands. Some people might have heard of the area but were not able to define it as a recreation destination. Furthermore as June is not a vacation period, it was difficult to find respondents.

The survey took place at different locations around the Blauwestad as well as on different days of the week. During the week, almost no potential respondents were available in the Blauwestad. Even Saturdays presented a challenge. The only productive day was Sunday, when respondents were present but also only if the weather was favourable.

Another limitation is the response rate of the respondents. Not every respondent was able to fill in the whole questionnaire. The reasons are very different, starting by not willing to answer the question to not being able to due to lack of time to explore the whole area.

Structure of the report

The following subjects will be discussed in this report:

1. Introduction

2. Literature review

This part contains the theory about the subject.

3. Methodology

Information about how the research has been done and why this method has been chosen, what techniques has been used to answer the Problem Statement and the Research Questions.

4. Research Results

The collected data will be presented in this part and with the use of Excel evaluated.

5. Conclusion

This part will connect the above mentioned parts and conclusions will be drawn.

Literature review

1. Monitoring

Monitoring is one part of a cyclical process, including performance and evaluation. This process is made to understand a certain criteria, in this example, how many recreationists and tourists were and are in the area, what they are doing and where they come from. Due the fact that the Blauwestad area is very young and still in the development process, the cyclical process is essential to understand the development of tourism in this area.

The active task of this process is the performance, whereas it is essential to identify single aspects in the development of indicators and measures. The different tasks or performances should be linked to objectives, targets or, in a broader sense, a purpose. Aims are a purpose or direction for a longer term and it is more general, whereas objectives achieve a specific target in a specific period of time (Howell, pg.10).

Monitoring, as the second part of the process, is the act of keeping regular surveillance, i.e. the regular collection of task performance indicators or measurements (Howell, pg.11).

Data are used to monitor. There are two different types of data: primary data, a collection of new data which have not been previously researched, and secondary data, data used for the same purpose collected previously by others. There are also different ways to collect primary data, the quantitative and qualitative research. A quantitative research is a systematic scientific investigation using, for example, questionnaires, whereas the qualitative research uses, for example, interviews. The quantitative research method is used to get a broader overview about certain researches of a large number of interviewees whereas the qualitative is used to get specific insight information of a few interviewees.

According to Howell, three different broad areas of monitoring exist, namely financial, contractual, and usage monitoring (pg. 12). Financial and the contractual monitoring are not part of this research, therefore the focus will lay on the usage monitoring and will be explained in depth later on.

Usage monitoring is, according to Howell, used to monitor the numbers of visitors that attend a particular facility or attraction. Often this monitoring can be applied on a temporary basis and can be linked to policy changes (pg.13). An example can be the Blauwestad and can be indicated now, as the development still is in process, and within every two years to see how the development and knowledge about this region improves.

The last part of this process is the Evaluation. Howell describes Evaluation as the process by which the worth of a measure is judged or accessed. The evaluation is essential as a tool to assess the research. It provides opportunities to gather new information and makes steps for improvement and changes possible. Similar data would be an advantage to compare the collected data. As mentioned above this process should be cyclical, therefore the same or at least very similar qualitative and quantitative data should be collected through different time periods. That is, collecting information on how many recreationists and tourists visit the area in each season and comparing the data, preferably over several years. It is important to note here that only like with like can be compared.

Before starting with the performance, it needs to be decided what is to be informed. The next step is to decide what aspects of performance are to be measured; afterwards the outcomes can be monitored and compared against the target . The last step would be taking appropriate action (Howell, pg.15).

Usage Monitoring

Usage Monitoring has many similarities to market research wherein data is collected to gather information about customers, recreationists, and/or tourists. Sample questions are: Who are they? Where do they come from? What are their expectations, etc.?

It’s important to note here that as more is known about the customer and consumer, the more likely it is to make the correct decisions to fulfil their expectations (Howell, pg.; 127).

The consumers and customers in all leisure and tourism facilities are the most important elements, all decision will directly or indirectly have an effect on them, therefore monitoring the consumers and customers is essential. The following points should be involved in the monitoring process in one way or another:

- Who used the facility?
- What activities are they doing?
- What social/economical background do they come from?
- Are we attracting special needs groups?

2. Blauwestad

Picture 1 – Blauwestad

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The Blauwestad, part of the Oldambt, is an area situated in the north of the Netherlands, in the eastern part of the Groningen province.

The Oldambt area was formed during the last ice age about 20,000 years ago and the area around the new sea of the Blauwestad is naturally higher and once had a lake, the Oldambt meer, which had been drained by farmers. Farmers in the area used to be very rich, a history that still can be seen in the huge and beautiful farms around the area.

The area of Oost Groningen (East Groningen) is still known for its socialist past. In the beginning of the 20th century, this part of the Netherlands had a very close relationship with the former Soviet Union and became well known for its socialist behavior.

Today, farmers and farms play a less important role and therefore the area of the Blauwestad lost its former wealth, and the unemployment rate became the highest in the Netherlands. That was one of the main reasons for the Blauwestad project, to bring a new impulse into that area and to boost the economy. Farms were bought and the farmers went to places like Canada to start a new life. The old Oldambt meer came back and the size has even been exceeded.

Partners of the Blauwestad are the communities of Winschoten, in the south, Scheemda, in the north-west, and Reiderland, in the east, and the provinces of Groninge and Purchase Holding. The responsibilities are divided into public and private. The public responsibilities are acquisition of the ground, town-planning procedures, and the realization of the public infrastructure. The responsibilities for the private sector are the realization of the private infrastructure and the sales of the parcels and realization of the project residences.

The financing is split between the communities, the province, VROM (Netherlands Ministry of housing, spatial planning and the environment), and others.

The whole area of the Blauwestad consists of 1,500ha, the sea with its 14,000,000m3 water has an area of 840ha (with a depth of min 1.30m, similar to the Sneekermeer and the Reeuwijkse Plassen). There are in total 1,480 residences planned and partly finished or in construction. These new residences are going to be in 5 new territories, situated in the south-east of the sea. The construction of houses is currently in the development phase in 4 of the 5 new territories (De Wei, Het Park, Het Dorp en Het Riet). Houses in the fifth living area (Het Wold) are currently available to purchase. The following three pictures give an expression of the new territories.

Picture 2 – De Wei

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Picture 3 – Het Park

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Picture 4 – Het Riet

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Nature has in the area of the Blauwestad 350ha and a public area of 160ha. The total investment (excl. residences) is €230.000.00,00.

Table 1 - Financing of the Blauwestad

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The flooding of the former agricultural area finished in 2006, a sand beach and a marina have been created in the north-west corner of the Blauwestad, and new bicycle paths have been created and are still under construction to make a path around the sea, which will be approximately 32km long.

Picture 5 – Sand beach in Midwolda

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The construction of houses, tourism facilities, islands within the sea, infrastructure and nature areas will last for about 10 more years (until 2018).

The purpose for this project is to give that area and its approximately 40,000 people (Scheemda, Reiderland and Winschoten) a new impulse. It can be said that this area, compared to the Netherlands in general, earns less per inhabitant, and the unemployment rate of the Oldambt region is the highest in the Netherlands. In 2004, the Netherlands had an unemployment rate of 6.5%; within the province of Groningen, the rate was 13% and the rate in the community of Reiderland even higher at 17.8% (“De Blauwestad: Meer dan een meer?!”, pg. 13).

In 1991 different local and national ministers agreed that something needed to be done in this area and since 1994 the development planning has been in progress.

The marketing activities of the Blauwestad are currently still based on the purchase of the new residences and a new marketing concept to attract tourists is going to be developed.

Companies of all sizes, working in the tourism sector in the Blauwestad area are working together under the brand name “Het Blauwe Lint” and are promoting the area as well as working on different projects such as “Colour cycling”. Routes with different colours have been established by the Blauwe Lint to attract tourists but also to promote the members of Blauwe Lint because the cycle paths cross the member organizations.

The Blauwestad is working on three different platforms, namely “Living”, “Nature”, and “Tourism and Recreation”. Most of the development so far has been done in “Living”. “Nature” is still in development as far as it can go, the biggest part of this development has to do with the Nature itself. “Tourism and Recreation” is in the beginning stages of development. Marketing activities have been so far taken place in “Randstad” (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague). The province of Groningen has mentioned the area of the Blauwestad in its “VVV-Gids 2008-09”.

Picture 6 – Card of the Blauwestad

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Picture 6 shows the whole area of the Blauwestad. Midwolda can be found in the north-west with the only sand beach in the area, the municipality of Reiderland is in the eastern part with the village Finsterwolda, and the municipality of Winschoten is in the south. Furthermore, this card shows the 5 new living areas of the Blauwestad, “Het Riet”, “Het Wold”, “De Wei”, “Het Dorp”, and “Het Park”. The red line around the sea is the new cycle path, still partly under construction. The cycle path will have a length of 32km. The infrastructure has very good conditions because the “A7” passes by the Blauwestad in the south, which is the main connection between Germany, in the east, and the province of Friesland, in the west.

3. The Toerdata Noord research

The research done in the Blauwestad has been based on researches done by Toerdata Noord. Toerdata Noord researches leisure and tourism in the northern part of the Netherlands, where the Blauwestad is situated, therefore the results of the research in the Blauwestad can be compared with the researches of Toerdata Noord to find possible similarities and differences of tourists coming to the northern part of the Netherlands and in the special case of the Blauwestad. The following part describes Toerdata Noord and explains its importance for the comparison with the results of the research done in the Blauwestad.

Toerdata Noord is a cyclical research for leisure and tourism in the northern part of the Netherlands, including the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe. The project started in May 1996. The research is done by students and employees of the Institute Service Management of the CHN University, Leeuwarden. Students collect date, input and mutate the collected data into the database and make analysis and eventually report the outcomes. The employees guide the students through all phases of the research process, make guiding instructions and procedures for different activities and tasks, take care of problems and are responsible for the whole project.

Toerdata Noord contains two different reports, Tourism in Numbers (“Toerisme in Cijfers”) which is done once every year, and Consumer Research Tourism (“Consumentenonderzoek Toerisme”), done every 3 years. Both reports are in Dutch and fulfill the need for information about the development in tourism in the provinces and the regions. Similar data are available but Toerdata Noord also considers small businesses which are usually left out.

The information of Toerdata Noord is intended for the provinces, the regions and local communities; furthermore, the data are also interesting for individual managers of leisure companies, branch organizations, and students (for assignments).

To collect data for the Consumer Research Tourism, 3,000 tourists in different locations and regions are directly questioned in the field.

Tourism in numbers works with 2,300 companies who receive a questionnaire every year.

Tourism in Numbers is an annual summery containing information of touristic categories throughout the three provinces of Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe.

One of the categories is accommodation, which discusses the capacity (number of beds), the total amount of overnight stays, and the average occupation rate of hotels/pensions, camping sites, group accommodation and recreation accommodations.

Another category is water sport, discussing the capacity, renting and overnight stays of yacht harbors and yacht rents.

Furthermore information about bridges and lock passages, employment numbers, touristic attractions and events, and spending in the leisure sector are given and discussed. In the northern part of the Netherlands, 1,8 billion Euros were spent within the leisure sector in 2002, which is 15% of the total amount spent in the Netherlands. Toerdata Noord has recorded 14.3 million overnight stays in 2002 in Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe, which is a 4% increase from 2001.

The Consumer Research Tourist is a description of the tourist profile in Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe. This report is based on this research and will compare the region of the Blauwestad to the information given by the Consumer Research Tourist.

Information contained in this research includes the profile of the tourist, the touristic motives, activities, renting, holiday behavior, appreciation and improvement points. The outcomes of the research are divided into different tourist groups (culture/sporting tourism), provinces, regions, the different kind of seasons, and the type of accommodations. On request, data can be more specified, i.e. the differences between the German and the Dutch tourists.

The following describes the importance of Toerdata Noord for society. It gives reliable numbers of the supply and demand on the market. Furthermore, based on the outcomes of the reports, the local government takes decisions on the terrain of tourism, and information of the Toerdata Noord can give feedback on policies made by the government.

Market information and important trends given in specific by Toerdata Noord are also useful for individual managers and branch organizations.

Three-thousand tourists were interviewed in the three provinces in 2005 within 12 different regions. The questionnaires took place in the pre-, high-, and off-season. The report differs between day tourists and overnight tourists. The collected data are compared to the research of 2000 and 2002.

The northern part of the Netherlands is well known for its nature, landscape and the huge amount of bicycle paths and possibilities for walking and hiking. This feature has been the most important for day tourists as well as overnight tourists and scored an 8 of 10.

Day tourists and overnight tourists have been asked for their general attitude toward the area. The day tourists in Drenthe were most satisfied, as were the overnight tourists.

Attractions and activities as possibilities for bad weather are a weak point according to the respondents. The scores differ from 6.5 to 7.3.

This leads to the possibilities of improvement in this region. Facilities for bad weather and facilities for children and parents are the most common points for improvement for day tourists as well as overnight tourists. Some aspects, such as signposting, the catering industry (horeca), information and promotion facilities, parking facilities, the cost and the environment are also points that should be improved, according to the respondents.

Table 3 - Comparison between the Blauwestad and Toerdata Noord

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Table 3 shows the comparison of the research done in the Blauwestad with the results of the Toerdata Noord research about the personal opinions over several components of the respondents. The respondents were asked to rate the components from 1 to 10, with one as the worst and 10 as the best. It can be seen that similarities between the two researches exist, such as in the opinion of hiking possibilities, which has been rated by the respondents in the Blauwestad with a 7.6 and with a 7.7 by the respondents of Toerdata Noord but differences can also be seen. The respondents of Toerdata Noord rated attractions with a 7.0, which is a good average, but respondents in the Blauwestad rated attractions with a 5.5, which is a bad result and means that the respondents are in general unsatisfied with that component.

The results of the research in the Blauwestad may change as more respondents are interviewed and when the area is more developed.

Toerdata Noord is a research done in the northern part of the Netherlands. The following part describes CBS, a research done in the Netherlands as a whole; afterwards, these two are compared with each other.

4. CBS (Central Bureau for Statistics)

CBS and its survey “Toerisme en recreatie in cijfers” (Tourism and recreation in numbers) gives a statistical overview of tourism and recreation in a broad sense. CBS differs its outcomes in data on holidays of the Dutch population, figures on foreign visitors staying in the Netherlands and the relationship between supply and demand of various types of tourist accommodations. It also discusses CBS quantitative information on recreation and leisure time behavior of the Dutch, the international perspective of tourism in the Netherlands and the economic importance of tourism and recreation in the Netherlands.

Since 1995, CBS books are published annually, and they are collaboration with The Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions and the Netherlands Institute of Research of Recreation and Tourism.

4.1. Comparison between Toerdata Noord and CBS

The comparison between Toerdata Noord and CBS is meant only as facts, not as a personal statement of the author. This part of the report will show the main differences between two similar researches made by two different research organizations.

Whereas CBS makes surveys about tourism and recreation in the Netherlands, Toerdata Noord is focusing on the northern part of the Netherlands with the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe. The main difference between these two surveys is the broadness of CBS, simply because CBS has to cover a much bigger area than Toerdata Noord, therefore Toerdata Noord is able to include small and very small companies into their surveys, which makes the survey more accurate. For example, with the hotels CBS interviews, they must have at least 5 beds, whereas Toerdata Noord interviews every hotel. Bed & breakfast accommodations are part of the research of Toerdata Noord but not part of the CBS research.

Toerdata Noord is able to divide the research into the three above-mentioned provinces and also differentiates the type of accommodations, such as camping sites, bed & breakfast and hotels, which CBS is only able to do partly, also because of the amount of different accommodations in the Netherlands.

The northern part of the Netherlands is not the most active or attractive tourism area of the Netherlands but with the help of Toerdata Noord, there are possibilities to increase the number of tourists coming to this part of the Netherlands.



ISBN (eBook)
1.4 MB
Institution / Hochschule
Stenden hogeschool – Tourism Management, Studiengang Tourism Management
blauwestad tourism monitoring consumer recreation



Titel: Blauwestad