Areas of expertise

Destination Branding, Marketing & Placemaking

Tourism has developed into a dynamic and fast-growing sector, creating an interdisciplinary field of study and research. The tourism industry offers economic benefits, growth and opportunities for people and businesses in destination areas. At the same time, matching demand (tourists) and supply (destinations) remains a challenge. It will always lead to a permanent but fluctuating flow of consumers to and from the destination areas. In tourism, as opposed to nearly all other economic goods and services, it is not the goods and services, but the consumers who are ‘distributed’. Without trivialising the role and the importance of the tourist as a consumer, it is clear that the position of the destination areas is becoming more and more important. In this research line, we study the different aspects of the destination from a tourism perspective, such as the complexity of tourist developments at international destinations, and research into the associated multiplicity of developments in, towards and between tourist destinations. Crucial attention is afforded to research into the development processes that take place at destination level.

Our experts & contact persons: Harald BuijtendijkMiranda CornelisseDineke KoertsBen Offringa

Alliances and relationships with the industry: The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC).

Tourist Experience & Behaviour

The essence of tourism in today’s world is the development and delivery of travel and visitation experiences to a range of individuals and groups who wish to see, understand, and experience the nature of different destinations and the way people live, work, and enjoy life in those destinations. The evolution of tourism following the Second World War, wherein managerial focus shifted from the delivery of ‘tourism products’ to the provision of ‘tourism experiences’, represents one instance of a broader transformation of the overall economy into what Pine and Gilmore define as ‘the experience economy’. This resulted in new management paradigms that emphasise experience design of tourism products by studying the nature of the tourist experience in all its forms, and at all levels such as emotional, rational and behavioural.

Projects in this area include dynamic longitudinal studies of travel customers’ decision making, online engagement, emotions, and well-being. We also offer professional programmes on this topic to various organisational layers.

Our experts & contact persons: Jeroen NawijnOndrej MitasEugenio van MaanenMarian van der Ent

Impacts of Tourism on Society

Tourism is one of the most important components of the global economy. It generates billions of dollars in revenues and millions of jobs worldwide. By many communities, especially in emerging countries, it is considered the only tool for development, and the only chance of increasing the quality of life. Thus the tourism industry has stretched from seaside to mountain resorts and from small villages to big metropolises. But at the same time, tourism started to show its uglier side. Both the actions of investors and of tourists are having negative impacts on the socio-cultural values and environmental assets of host communities all over the world. In this research theme, we are studying the impacts of tourism on society from different perspectives such as economic, social & cultural, and environmental perspectives.

From the economic perspective, tourism generates wealth and jobs, but the wealth leaks from the community and the jobs are mainly low income. From the socio-cultural perspective, tourism brings together people from different backgrounds, cultures and traditions and promotes peace. But at the same time, due to globalisation, many communities have lost their cultural identity and gave way to a "Disneyfication" of their village or town. From an environmental perspective, tourism helped create national parks and protected areas, where unique examples of flora and fauna can be found. But tourists have also been proven to be a problem because of the pollution they generate. In this research theme, we are studying these impacts of tourism on society.

Our experts & contact persons: Rami IsaacJeroen KlijsErdinc CakmakRob BongaertsTomas Mainil

Digitisation and Technology in Tourism

Beginning in the 1990s, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) transformed the domain of tourism globally. The achievements in the ICT domain have undeniably changed the very structure of business strategies and industry practices.

Since the year 2000, the ICT domain has seen a distinct emphasis in terms of the development of a substantial range of instruments and services that faciliate interaction between market actors at global level. The advent of the internet and search engines along with the technological capacities and speed of networks have led to increasing numbers of tourists all over the world using these technologies for planning and documenting their trips.

ICT not only offers customers the possibility to identify, personalise and buy tourism products, but also facilitates tourism industry globalisation, providing efficient instruments to the tourism industry in order to develop and distribute their offerings across the globe. In this research theme, we study the meanings and impacts of new technologies on tourism, investigate current technology modifications, and prognosticate future technological developments in the tourism industry such as big data, data science, internet of things, social media and the sharing economy.

Our experts & contact persons: Corné DijkmansWesley PutJeroen VinkesteijnRob Simons


Dr. Moniek Hover, 

A powerful story arouses your imagination, touches you emotionally, and stays with you for years on end. A good story makes abstract values concrete. In other words, stories are strong instruments in creating meaningful experiences - in the field of leisure and beyond. In close consultation with theme park the Efteling, which finances the research, Moniek Hover completed a doctoral dissertation on storytelling and the underlying principles by means of which stories come into being, focusing on the interaction between the actors (‘narrators’ in the broad sense of the word) and the context in which they find themselves. Hover: ‘Fairy tales, like the ones “told” in the Efteling are a wonderful source of information. They are ancient stories which are timeless and universal on the one hand, and influenced by the spirit of the times and culture on the other hand. The principles of storytelling can also be applied to other fields. For instance, a strong corporate story may inspire fascination and commitment among the employees in an organisation.’
With the Efteling Academy and the academic storytelling ‘workshop’, the research group forges a strong link between theory and practice.

Read more about Moniek Hover

Imagineering and Creative Entrepreneurship

Dr. Diane Nijs,

In a highly transparent knowledge economy, people are increasingly looking for authenticity, identity, meaning, and experience. This opens a multitude of prospects to organisations and companies who are not afraid of innovation. This development also calls for a new enterprise logic: a logic that involves openness, interaction and cocreation.
The professorship does research and advises companies and organisations as to how they can move towards a continuous process of innovation and fascination, starting from the experience perspective. Both in the creative industries and beyond.
Nijs: ‘We often lose sight of the real motives of consumers and employees, as we also do of the magic of our own organisation. The professorship helps companies transform into meaningful and creative organisations that dare to play the game differently.’

Read more about Diane Nijs

Placemaking & Events

Prof. Greg Richards,

Events and places provide the context in which leisure happens. This programme line examines the relationship between leisure practices and the events, spaces and places associated with them, analysing how practices affect these contexts, and how the context shapes practice. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between investment (economic, social, cultural and relational capital) and the different outcomes and effects that are expected to be generated through the development of specific practices in different contexts (for example, economic growth, social cohesion, emotional energy, creative output, place identification, etc.).

Read more about Greg Richards

Serious Games

Prof. dr. Igor Mayer
The serious games research area is entitled ‘Playful Organisations & Learning Systems’. The ambition is to design and study the impact of games – their concepts, principles and technology – on team performance, organisational effectiveness and the management of complex systems, for the good of society. An example of a complex system for which serious gaming is deemed of high potential for all sorts of purposes is Maritime Spatial Planning. This is why the professorship is a full partner in the NorthSEE and BalticLINes Interreg projects, in which the simulation gaming platform MSP Challenge is designed, developed and applied for different purposes.

Read more about Igor Mayer