Drenthe as "Oerprovincie" of the Netherlands - Exploring the layers of the province's online tourism promotion

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This research applies a multimodal critical discourse analysis to the images and texts on drenthe.nl in order to examine the ideas and images Drenthe’s official tourism website communicates with the brand “Oerprovincie van Nederland.” Although at first glance the “Oerprovincie van Nederland” brand would evoke ideas of Drenthe being the oldest or prehistoric province of the country, the official tourism website seems to establish a more layered narrative of the province. This raises questions about what message Drenthe’s online tourism promotion precisely tries to convey. As the hypothesis is that the website communicates a layered narrative of the province, the method includes an active search for (seeming) paradoxes and clusters of ideas about Drenthe. Instrumental and critical approaches to destination branding are combined so as to illustrate the techniques with which the website constructs an attractive destination image, as well as to analyse myths and fantasies the discourse (re)produces. The results of the analysis demonstrate that the discourse on drenthe.nl indeed constructs layered ideas and images of Drenthe, and that destination branding is more complex than previous studies have suggested. The research reveals that Drenthe is a place where tourists can adopt both active and passive attitudes on their holiday. Further, it shows that the website uses different and sometimes conflicting notions of the past to construct a destination image that is linked to bygone eras while preserving some hints of modernity. Lastly, the research demonstrates that drenthe.nl compares the province to faraway destinations but does this in such a manner that it fits in the “oer” discourse. An analysis of the paradoxical and layered narratives illustrates how Drenthe’s online tourism promotion reiterates and reinforces discourses of the province as wild and mysterious, and as a place of nostalgia
Faculteit der Letteren