Making Places and Shaping Destinations

People prefer to live, work and recreate in places they like. Creating attractive places and destinations therefore has social and economic importance. People don’t only value a place based on its physical design, but also on the way they experience the place. As a result, the design of places and destinations is a complicated process.

Drawing from a wide range of base disciplines, this expertise helps to improve and shape locations - through physical or digital interventions as well as tailor-made solutions. These interventions can benefit various stakeholders, for example by enhancing the well-being of local residents, increasing visitor satisfaction or spending, attracting better human talent (both nationally and internationally), contributing to the environmental sustainability of a destination, or by developing a beneficial business climate.

Effective stakeholder collaboration lies at the heart of NHTV’s programme. This, by itself, is a challenge since many public- or private-sector decision-makers need to reach consensus, guided by a shared future vision that is suitable to the specific context of each destination.  One of the key challenges here is that destination planning and development often addresses individual components of a place – such as traffic or transport, public green areas, specific tourist facilities, business support centres, or public infrastructure - rather than focusing on a more inclusive approach. This top-down and fragmented approach can make places and destinations underperform and due to this, their real potential is often not achieved. Besides, people’s experiences and their sometimes conflicting interests (for example, residents and visitors) is damaged by that fragmented approach. As a consequence, the aspirations of its residents and/or the visiting tourists will not be fulfilled, with all its consequences.

Thus, it is important to design and manage public places by considering their main beneficiaries and local strengths. An integrated approach, blending solutions through and with people, is often more suitable and effective. This requires a distinct multidisciplinary approach. NHTV boasts all necessary disciplines to navigate this area effectively, and is constantly connected to the most important international developments in knowledge and experience. This research programme therefore merges all that expertise into the social, economic, cultural, political and environmental domain of any given place or destination.

In this research theme NHTV brings proven international expertise to its national and international partners, such as government and local authorities, DMOs, chambers, investors, large businesses (including e-businesses), and/or online and offline tour operators, as well as students. With these efforts, NHTV is placed on the national and international expertise map and can lead the change.