Short description: The Vrijetijdshuis Brabant is the marketing organisation for the leisure sector in the county of Brabant. It is aimed at tourism and at local residents, but the focus is clearly on the latter. Part of their work is to produce marketing studies on tourism. It is a fairly new organisation merged from three organisations (Cultural Marketing/ Tourism/ Culture Website).
Their work focuses on the whole leisure sector, which includes general leisure, sports, shopping and tourism. This also includes the organisation of festivals and research into opportunities for development. For this latter point the Vrijetijtshuis Brabant also conduct research on socio-economic/spatial profiles to identify specific demand in different areas. New projects include the promotion of walking and cycling. An example is the establishment of a mountain bike trail.
They produce marketing and communication material for themes such as cycling, horse riding or canoeing.
Overall the area has about one million visitors per year. It’s important to stress that the Vrijetijdshuis Brabant is a public institution. It is not based on membership of individual businesses.
Findings: The pure hubs of the Vrijetijdshuis Brabant are one strand of another project, the so-called “gateways to nature”. These gateways are meant as points to access to the open landscape. The specific usage varies between the gates, as they are individually organised. But the general idea is to regulate tourism, to lead streams of tourism flows to certain areas, while protecting other areas. Part of the concept is also to develop a common brand, ensurance of a minimum level of quality between the gates, a kind of quality control. This includes for example a list of facilities that one can expect at each gateway.
The plan is to open and grant 35 gates for nature. Some of these have already been opened but currently the service quality of these gateways varies. So this is currently the basis for pure hubs but one can do more than just developing the gates.
The first 7 nature gates are planned to open in spring 2013. Currently the concept is being developed and talks to stakeholders are taking place.
About 100 students have worked for 2 ½ months on visions and ideas for the gateways. There is a possibility to implement some of these ideas. The question was: what is it possible to do in terms of new events, sports and culture. As a result of their work, the students presented about 20 different presentations with ideas for the gateways. These included for example a “silent disco”, a lumberjack event at an existing climbing park, sport events including walking and running.
Currently the process of implementation is on its way with 7 gateways. The goal is to realise three new pure hubs, two this year and one next year. The marketing of regional products like in some of the other pure hubs projects as part of the hubs concept is a possibility but not the focus at this stage. There is a tradition of leather production in the areas, so this could be a further potential.
This description of a Pure Hubs project is based on information gathered during a visit to the project partners in November 2012. The purpose is to provide additional information to the profiles of each project which is available via the Pure Hubs website.