Recreatie en platteland : een explorerende studie over de ontwikkeling van de recreatieve functie van het platteland, de betrokkenheid bij deze ontwikkeling van de bewoners van het platteland en hun houding ten opzichte van deze functie

A.P.C. Kerstens

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Due to urbanisation and industrialisation the countryside in the Netherlands is becoming more and more important for outdoor recreation and as a tourist attraction for city dwellers, in addition to its original and, until now, dominant agricultural role.
The most important problem discussed in this study is: What influence does the development of recreation and tourism have on the living conditions for the population in those rural areas?

In order to study this problem completely it would be necessary to carry out investigations among the population of many rural districts. Only two areas have been studied during this research.

Broadly speaking, the factors influencing rural living conditions, concerning the effects of recreation, can be divided into three groups.

The first group may be considered as: 'The ways in which outdoor recreation and tourism are developed'. The rate at which these functions have developed, the number of people seeking recreation and where they come from, the length of stay, their motives for going to the countryside and whether they return regularly, where they stop, e.g. in the villages or in isolated 'enclaves', are included in this group. These questions are dealt with in the first part of this investigation.

The second group may be considered as: 'The effects of the development of outdoor recreation in the countryside on the countryside itself'. What spatial and scenic effects occur due to this development? What accommodation is constructed? What new economic possibilities are created if an area is turned into a tourist attraction? Is there a great deal of money flowing into the area in question, in the form of subsidies, for the development of the infrastructure for tourism and recreation? What social effects does the development of tourism have on the area in question? Is the existing community spirit lost? Is there much contact between the country-dwellers and the tourists? What cultural influence takes place? Do the inhabitants of rural areas orientate themselves (even more) to the modern dynamic culture of the urban world outside the countryside? These questions are discussed in the second part of this investigation.

The third group concerns: 'The social-economic and cultural development of the countryside'. Those areas already well developed towards an open relationship with the outside world will be influenced differently by tourism than those areas which can be classed as 'shut-off'. Are the people (still) strongly attached to agriculture? Are they still strongly connected to the local community? Is an area developing in a social, economic and demographic manner or is it stagnating in various ways? These questions are discussed in the third part of this investigation.

When, in a few rural areas, investigations are carried out into the effects of the development of recreation on the living conditions of those areas, they can only be carried out indirectly, namely by obtaining the views of the inhabitants.

The first part of this study is an investigation into the way in which the development of recreation in the countryside occurs. This is achieved not only by analysing statistical data of the movement towards the rural areas, in the form of day-trips, week-end-visits and holidays, but also by considering opinions concerning the role of the countryside and by proposing theories which could be developed from these opinions or which are related to them. It is apparent that the important theoretical considerations of recreation in general and of the role of rural areas in outdoor recreation in particular are not yet well-developed. The opinions and theories prevalent at the present time are either unrealistic or are in, need of considerable modification.

It is possible to consider the development of recreation from the historical standpoint and also from the way in which recreation has progressed in different areas.

According to CHRISTALLER (1955), we have been involved in the fifth phase of the development of outdoor recreation and tourism since 1930. In this phase a so-called 'trend to the periphery' occurs and through this tourism and recreation bring about economic levelling, social integration and cultural exchange. As result of this 'trend to the periphery' various countries and rural areas become involved in the development of tourism and recreation which were not previously concerned with the earlier phases of the development.

The study of the development of recreation and tourism, as it has occurred in different areas, reveals obvious differences. Several indications could be found for the accuracy of the so-called 'moving-up theory', or at least different facts could be noted which could be considered as support for this theory. The idea behind the 'moving-up theory' is that a certain area is 'discovered' by people from the upper strata of society and is later visited en masse by people from the lower strata; as a result these areas develop a different character, then new areas are 'discovered' and the same thing occurs again. There is an initial phase, a development phase, a maturing phase, a saturation phase and a decline. The idea that the development outlined in this model must be avoided by constructive planning before it reaches completion is gaining greater impetus.

In the second part of this study the effect of the development of recreation on the general development of the countryside has been considered. In this case the scenic and spatial effects, economic and man-made morphological effects and other social and cultural effects have been distinguished from each other. The importance of the influence on the living conditions of a rural area can only be determined by finding out the opinions of the inhabitants of the area in question.

The third part of this study is the report of an investigation into what influence the development of recreation has on the living conditions for the inhabitants of two rural areas. The investigation was in the form of an attempt to 'measure' the attitude of these inhabitants to this development.

In the first instance it was necessary to find out if the inhabitants of the rural areas are aware of the social object, namely 'the outdoor recreational function of the countryside', in other words, do they feel involved? The two areas chosen for investigation, Gaasterland in the south-west comer of the province of Friesland and de Kempen in the central-southern part of the province of North Brabant, differ considerably from each other in this respect. The inhabitants of Gaasterland were far more aware of the development of recreation in the area than those of de Kempen, who did not really feel involved and where there was much less initiative to develop the economic possibilities offered by this new function of the countryside. This was not the case in Gaasterland where much effort was being made to take advantage of these possibilities. One of the most important reasons for these differences was that Gaasterland, from an economic and thus a demographic point of view, is a stagnating area and de Kempen, on the other hand, especially in recent times, has shown a certain growth both by an increase in the availability of work in de Kempen itself and in the surrounding areas, and by the influx of reasonably large number of new inhabitants in this area.

One of the most important reasons for the differences can be traced to the differences in the culture of the areas; the culture in Gaasterland is much less concerned with the countryside than that of de Kempen, where the population is probably less involved with the city and with urban life. In Gaasterland much thought has been given to the development of recreation in the different information campaigns and moreover many inhabitants see the development of recreation as the last chance to stimulate the economy of the area. According to experts the expected stimulation of the economy has been overestimated.

Another important difference could be that the inhabitants of Gaasterland have been involved with recreation for a longer time than those of de Kempen where this development has clearly only recently started. Also connected with this is the origin of the tourists. For some time now Gaasterland has been involved with regional recreation and, although some changes are occurring, this is still the case, while de Kempen, has primarily been involved with recreation for people living in the southern 'randstad' (especially Rotterdam); the cultural difference between the 'visitor' and his 'host' is thus considerably greater in de Kempen than in Gaasterland.

As far as the attitude of the inhabitants with regard to the recreational function of their area is concerned, three hypothetically ideal typical country- dwellers can be distinguished; namely primary, secondary and tertiary countrydwellers. The primary country-dwellers are (still) deeply involved in the old countryside and see tourism as an intrusion in the countryside where agriculture has, and still should have, the dominant role. The various changes such as those caused by the development of recreation, if they are noticed at all, are seen as a danger to their living conditions. The expansion and diversification of the supporting services are not considered by them as progress because their needs are not yet sufficiently emancipated for these changes to be appreciated.

The secondary country-dwellers have mostly been born and bred in the country but are less involved with the old countryside than the primary countrydwellers, or are possibly completely uninterested in the old countryside and view the development of recreation as an important possibility of improving *their living conditions. For example the facilities for relaxation which are created during this development are appreciated by them because they see the need for them. These secondary country-dwellers are in favour of the development of recreation in the countryside because as it is 'opened up' they will benefit economically and in general their living conditions will be improved.

The tertiary country-dwellers regard the development of outdoor recreation as more of a threat to the living conditions of their area than as an improvement. On the one hand they will encourage the improvement in the spatial and scenic structure of their area but on the other hand will disapprove, or at least will view with some mistrust any important increase in the number of visitors to their area. They see this increase as though it is in competition with their own recreational interests. They would like to keep the area rural and maintain the same atmosphere which existed when they first arrived there. In this case nostalgia (based on an idealised countryside) and deceptive conservatism often play a not to be underestimated role. Also anti-urbanism, which plays an important part in the image of the countryside as a recreationpossibility, could be a basic reason for this.

In the Gaasterland and de Kempen areas respectively 16 and 20% of the people answering the enquiry took a negative attitude to the development of a recreational function in their area. A large number, 16 and 35 % respectively, took what could be called an equivocal attitude to the recreation; they see both advantages and disadvantages to tourism in their areas. The resistance can probably be traced mainly to the primary country-dwellers. Eventually, however, more objections will be heard from the tertiary country-dwellers. The objections will thus clearly come more from the primary and tertiary countrydwellers. The reasons behind these objections are, however, different; the objections of the primary country-dwellers arise from their feeling for tradition, whereas the objections offered by the tertiary country-dwellers arise from a sentimental rural bias; any further development of tourism competes with their own recreational needs.
Original languageDutch
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Hofstee, E.W., Promotor
Award date11 Apr 1973
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publication statusPublished - 1972


  • outdoor recreation
  • rural recreation
  • regional planning
  • farm holidays
  • leisure activities
  • leisure
  • kempen
  • gaasterland

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