Zooming out — Local food at the border: the case of the Emsland and Veenland
Straddling the Dutch-German border, the regions Veenland and Emsland are geographically and partially historically the same, but have undergone a different kind of tourism development. While tourism tends to be small scale on both sides, the German Emsland welcomes significantly more tourists than the Dutch Veenland. In connection with a project to foster Veeland’s tourism development respecting the local integrity and particularly the wish to integrate local food into the tourism value chain, this research was carried out for small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) entrepreneurs of the Veenland. The aim was to find out to what extent local products — defined as food from raw materials to dishes — contribute to the tourism motivation and the tourism product of the region in the perception of the tourists. A questionnaire was given to tourists (including day-trippers), which yielded 406 valid responses in the Emsland and 594 in the Veenland.
Outcomes show that regional food and dishes do not play a major role in the decision to travel to the regions and that the recognition of local products is low. In the Emsland, tourists identify local products more easily (despite coming from farther away) and are more likely to consume these. In the Veenland, either typical Dutch or products seen in the landscape were mentioned instead of the actual local products (defined by local experts). Comparing the results, however, it can be stated that local products as a supporting tourism resource are not used particularly much in the Veenland region and there is further potential to integrate them into the local value chain.
Keywords: local food, local tourism development, tourist experience, tourism motivation