The Brussels capital region received 3,166,224 visitors in 2011, which meant 5,939,283 overnight stays.
This is a 6.9 percent growth compared with 2010. This means that Brussels is able to present the same growth percentage as last year, even despite the economic difficulties. The region is hereby performing slightly higher than the average for other European cities, which is at 6.3 percent.
According to UIA figures, Brussels is at first place in terms of the number of meetings and conferences. The rise in the number of overnight stays can namely be put down to the increase of professional stays that constituted 53 percent of all stays: +10.5 percent for meetings and 13.1 percent for other professional reasons. Moreover, the 3.16 million professional stays broke the record figure of 2.92 million set in 2008.
Belgians themselves made up a large number of the bookings at 20 percent (+11.8 percent). After this, the most overnight stays were from France, Great Britain, and Spain, respectively. What stands out is that certain BRIC countries have increased considerably: Brazil +37.3 percent, Russia +28.8, and China +29.8 percent.
The Flemish Region had a study carried out into the TSA (Tourism Satellite Accounts) model, which revealed that with 3.2 billion of added value, tourism represents 5.5 percent of the GDP of the Brussels capital region. Based on the results of the first few months of 2012 â +6 percent in the first quarter â this increase is also set to continue this year.
âFor the first time in 2011-2012, there are 3 segments of Brussels tourism that are progressing: leisure stays, business stays, and city trips. This means that Brussels is on course to reach its goal of 10 million overnight stays by 2020, despite the difficult situation in the Eurozone,â explained Christos Doulkeridis, Brussels Minister of Tourism.
This means that the European capital is outperforming the other Belgian regions, and this result can be ascribed to the policy pursued by VISITBRUSSELS and the good cooperation with the major players in Brussels tourism. They, together, have already succeeded in developing a strong image for Brussels tourism by means of various campaigns:
- Developing a new website featuring the most complete online database of Brussels. At the end of 2011, the website had clocked up 1,050,620, while in 2012, there should be more than 2 million. The VISITBRUSSELS app for iPhones was developed in late 2011, and has now already been downloaded around 3,500 times. A version for Android is set to follow at the end of May;
- A 15 percent increase in requests sent to the Brussels Convention Bureau, which meant 400 files were handled in 2011. This means that the conversion rate is at 48 percent, 3 points higher than in 2010;
- Organizing and internationalizing various events such as:
ïŹï Tutankhamun, his tomb and his treasures;
ïŹï The world premiere of The Adventures of Tintin: the Secret of the Unicorn; and
ïŹï The comic strip;
- Organizing 106 press trips in collaboration with Tourism Flanders and Wallonia-Brussels Tourism, which led to over 1,000 articles worldwide;
- Participating in more than 30 international exhibitions in collaboration with the Belgian tourism sector hotels, congress halls, museums, and attractions;
- Developing tourist products such as themed maps Pocket Guides, Hotel Packs, etc.;
- Signing a cooperation agreement with Washington as part of the development project for an association of major cities around the world; and
- Integrating Agenda.be and ArsĂšne 50 into VISITBRUSSELS.
"Tourism should be a cornerstone in the economic recovery in Brussels. To achieve the goal of 10 million overnight stays in 5 to 6 years' time, it is crucial to propel the proposed new convention center at the Heysel. But also to continue to attract the international associations to Brussels and make of Brussels an inevitable shopping destination," indicated BenoĂźt Cerexhe, Brussels Minister of Economy.
Charles PiquĂ©, Minister-President of the government of the Brussels capital region, said: "The encouraging figures of the Brussels tourism reinforce me in the principle that I have set several years ago: a coherent tourism offer based on the assets of Brussels, like fashion, comics and gastronomy, can only be profitable. The image of the region is stronger, and Brussels is no longer inferior to its main competitors. This is certainly a positive note at the dawn of the regionalization of tourism.â
Philippe Close, Alderman of Tourism at the City of Brussels, said: "The restructuring of the Tourism Office makes it possible to be more proactive. VISITBRUSSELS has become a real player in the Brussels region, which aims to participate actively in the valuation of Brussels as a destination. The organization of the premiere of the Tintin movie in Brussels and the Tutankhamun exhibition are indeed two examples of this new ambition, which seems to be working.â
A TOURIST DEPARTMENT IN FULL SWING
For VISITBRUSSELS, the tourism office of Brussels, these results are already encouraging. With a change of direction in 2009, a name change in 2010 and the arrival of new President Alain Hutchinson last month, the organization has gained fresh momentum.
Alain Hutchinson, President of VISITBRUSSELS, said: âMy ambitions with the Visit Brussels Presidency is to pursue its development at the heart of our region, expanding its partnerships even further to every commune of Brussels, among others things, and opening it up to the vision of regionalization expected of tourism.â
More information about the activities of VISITBRUSSELS: http://visitbrussels.be/bitc/BE_en/press_report/11565/annual-report-vist...
The annual report 2011 provides you with an overview of the various resources employed to reinforce Brussels as a destination both nationally and internationally.
There is also an objective this year with, among other things, the organization of the theme year, Brusselicious, and the 150th birthday of the Les MisĂ©rables, as well as many other initiatives. You can find a summary in the 2012 action plan: http://visitbrussels.be/bitc/BE_nl/press_report/7048/actieplan-2012-visi... .
Visit Brussels is a member of the International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP), a new and fast-growing grassroots travel and tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality service and green growth.
Source: Image via visitbrussels.be