Magazine article The Futurist

Applying Futures Studies: Leisure and Tourism

Magazine article The Futurist

Applying Futures Studies: Leisure and Tourism

Article excerpt

Twenty-five years ago, Stenden University of Applied Sciences, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, started its undergraduate Leisure Management program. Since its inception, the program has always had a strong focus on research, and its research center for leisure and tourism gave third-year students the opportunity to participate in projects for businesses and organizations in those industries.

In the many projects that the research institute conducted, however, it was often faced with a lack of quality data. Data about supply and demand of tourism in the Netherlands was scattered, incomplete, and difficult to compare. As a consequence, the research center, stimulated by the leisure and tourism business, established a monitoring system under the name Toerdata Noord in 1996.

The aim was to collect data about capacity, occupancy rates, and employment of the nearly 2,500 businesses in the accommodation sector (including hotels, pensions, camping sites, ports for tourist boats, etc.), as well as data about the socio-demographic profile, motivation, and activities of tourists in the northern provinces of Friesland, Groningen, and Drenthe. The process aligned the operational definitions of accommodation types and sizes that the three provinces used.

The foundation of Toerdata meant a big step in the supply of consistent data about tourism in the north of

the Netherlands, and after 18 years the system is still in place under

the name Tourism Monitor.

The tourism business in the region gradually expressed a new need. While the data provided by Toerdata enabled researchers to monitor past developments, the tourism industry was increasingly facing a vastly changing and uncertain business environment and so needed more support with policy and planning. Trade organizations, local and regional governments, and Stenden University decided to develop an institute that would specialize in futures studies and scenario planning specifically for the leisure and tourism business in the Netherlands and Europe.

The European Tourism Futures Institute was thus established in 2009. As a professor of applied sciences in scenario planning, I was appointed to develop a link between education and the business and to ensure knowledge development, dissemination, and application. The Institute can be regarded as the maturation of the research center that Stenden University started back in the late 1980s.

We developed a four-year learning line in the BBA Leisure Management and the BBA Tourism Management programs. The learning lines in both programs aim to teach the students a contemporary approach to strategic management; to instruct them about trend analysis, futures studies, and scenario planning; and, indirectly, to encourage them to develop a proactive attitude toward the future, stimulating creativity and innovativeness. …

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