Does the northern Wadden coast, currently mostly a transit area for tourists on their way to the islands, have the potential for tourist and leisure development? The characteristics of a rural area bordering the World Heritage Wadden Sea would suggest that it does, but the challenge is to combine the attractiveness of a tourist area with the strict requirements of coastal protection.
Waddendijk Think Tank
In 2013 ETFI took the initiative of creating a 'Waddendijk think tank' with regional stakeholders representing the housing corporations, coastal protection, architecture, cultural festivals and tourist development. The conclusion was that any future development should respect not only coastal safety, but also the natural and cultural specifics of the area. Two ideas became key in the work of this think tank: the concept of Building with Nature, which seeks to integrate natural processes into the coastal protection system, and the idea of a Cultural Route with landscape art, leading to a kind of permanent Oerol festival on the continental shore. The Estuaire project in Nantes (France) would be a good example of a similar development.
The latest ETFI publication is not the end result of another project, but has to become an inspiration for innovative developments in the coastal area. A specific recommendation is to initiate such a development in a pilot area, where coastal protection standards would allow for certain refoms. Thus, the village of Holwerd, currently with its back to the sea, could become a tourist seaport in the project of 'Holwerd on Sea'.