The jury of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in Dallas, Texas, USA, has just announced that Parkstad Limburg has been awarded the 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Award. This is the most prestigious tourism award in the world. Kelly Regterschot, the alderman in charge of tourism for the region of Parkstad Limburg, and Anya Niewierra, general director of the South Limburg tourist information office (VVV Zuid-Limburg), were there to receive the honours. The jury praised the structural and integrated approach that quickly resulted in the successful development of a ‘black-to-green’ area. Parkstad Limburg was one of the three finalists in the ‘Destination’ category for the prestigious 2016 WTTC Award. This makes Parkstad Limburg the first destination in the Netherlands to win this award and the region can now be counted amongst one of the leading tourist regions of the world.
‘This is the crowning glory of our all our hard work,’ enthuse our proud winners. ‘Following a lengthy and dedicated strategy that was consistently maintained by local businesses and city management alike to develop tourism as one of the driving points of economic policy, we are ecstatic to have won this grand prize for tourism.’
Provincial Executive for Tourism Eric Geurts adds, ‘This prize is a reward for our sustainable approach, which has proven to bring prosperity and new energy to this former mining region.’
Why did Parkstad Limburg win this prize?
Parkstad Limburg is the only example in the Netherlands of a former mining region being transformed into a tourist destination. This project proves that a former industrial region can be uniquely beautified by accentuating the right places. Over the past fifteen years, government institutes, entrepreneurs, residents, and the South Limburg tourist information office have worked together intensively and resolutely to develop an impressive tourist destination, with a tourism sector that had a turnover in 2015 of €368 million and has created 5,800 new full-time jobs. In 2015, 29% of the total tourism-related turnover of South Limburg was achieved in this formerly ‘ugliest area’ in the region. This was achieved during an economically difficult time by visionary politicians and investors who made it possible to build large tourist attractions such as GaiaZOO and SnowWorld, to construct nature areas such as Park Gravenrode, and to develop walking and cycling routes. They also enabled the creation of a new cultural climate with festivals such as Pinkpop and Cultura Nova, preserved the mining history of the region, involved local residents through volunteer work, and expressly looked across our borders and sought inspiration from the Netherlands’ neighbouring countries Belgium and Germany. Furthermore, the development of Parkstad Limburg has increased the number of short-stay visits to South Limburg, as it has enhanced the attractiveness of the region for tourists and other visitors.
What does this award mean for South Limburg?
It will increase international media attention, which will boost the number of international visitors to our region and create a positive development for the economy and new job opportunities. Parkstad Limburg is likely to draw more investors now, which will help to implement new projects such as Nature Wonder World which will develop the region even further.
What can you do as a resident and entrepreneur?
Share this announcement and spread the pride that we feel for our region. Follow the websites vvvzuidlimburg.nl/bestofthewor