Experimenting in Meetjesland

This is an article from the magazine ‘Travel to Tomorrow‘.

Inspired by his participation in the Tourism Transforms project, Erik Hennes from Tourism Meetjesland created a core group in order to raise the issue of tourism of the future in the ‘Kreken’ area (a part of Meetjesland).

In a change from the usual routine, the first meeting was not merely with representatives from the region. Everyone was invited to join in, to find connections between them. The invitation was pretty vague and was widely distributed in the municipalities of Assenede and St. Laureins. “We had no idea who would show up”, explains Erik. It was great to see that the rather vague invitation to work on something together brought new people in. “Half of those attending were new to us, people we otherwise may not have reached, but who all put their hearts into tourism in the ‘Kreken’ area.”

45 people attended and were enthusiastic to share their experiences, wishes and dreams. “Collaborating on the tourism of the future generated a great deal of energy among the people present and the initiators. It brought us back to the essence, why we are all doing it. It forces us into a new position: not formulating proposals but asking what drives people, what they want to realise. Today, the participants are moving things forward, to ensure the project doesn’t falter.”

The core group reflects carefully on the project and is continuously learning from the process. Step by step and sometimes with a step backwards.

If things go too quickly, we slow things down to the rhythm of the group; we also take a step back when necessary. ‘Working on the Tourism of Tomorrow’ started with a presentation from Anna Pollock about ‘Flourishing destinations’. Then there was an interactive part asking ‘How do we turn the ‘Kreken’ area into a flourishing destination?’ In small groups, the participants discussed ideas and future initiatives. Where do we as residents, regions/municipalities and entrepreneurs want to be in five years? And what are the conditions required in order to fulfil these dream scenarios?

The theme was also integrated in an international project called ‘Flourishing destinations’ with Scotland and Romania. Interested to know how things are going? Find out what’s going on in Meetjesland.


They are also experimenting in De Kempen and Mechelen. Would you like to share ideas or find a sounding board? We’d love to hear from you. Then we can look at the options and connect you with our contacts.

More information on the experiments in Meetjesland erik.hennes@toerismemeetjesland.be