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Portretfoto Kaat De Ridder
Research line coordinator

Kaat De Ridder

Sustainable Business and Digital Innovation

Kaat De Ridder is a tourism researcher and lecturer, with a passion for culture and heritage and their perception within tourism experiences.

About Kaat

What gives places meaning, charge and context? What drives people to visit, discover and experience places? And how do they do that? The answer to these questions can often be found under the heading of 'culture and heritage', in all its forms and guises, with their own dynamics, characteristics and stakeholders. Culture and heritage are therefore the main reasons why people travel. Let that be the subject in which I am only too happy to delve into. As a qualitative researcher and expert on cultural heritage appointed by the Department of Culture, Youth and Media, I take on the challenge of tackling issues such as 'how do we translate this heritage into a meaningful experience for the visitor, in collaboration with which parties and on what way?” and “how can that experience appeal to a wide audience and who is that audience?”.

Aspects such as sustainability (in the broad sense of the word), safeguarding, protecting and inclusiveness are always given a full place in these challenges. However, not all types of culture and heritage can be tarnished with the same brush. Within projects such as 'Touristic opening up of intangible heritage' and 'DigitICE', we specifically zoom in on intangible heritage, in order to create a framework in collaboration with both tourism and heritage players in which visitors can experience this type of heritage, with or without the integration of technologies, and with attention to the safeguarding of the practices, and the communities that support these practices.

If Ba. in Hotel Management, Ma. in Tourism, and with several years of experience in a sales environment, I know that the business side of such stories in cultural tourism is also important to achieve a sustainable outcome. The search for a good and supported balance, between conservation and valorisation, between tourism and heritage, is therefore an exercise in which I have built up experience.