Ghent reopens for tourists: a new and unique offer, sustainable and nearby

The City of Ghent is investing over one and a half million euro in boosting tourism in a sustainable way.

Most travel restrictions were lifted on 8 June 2020. The City of Ghent is investing over one and a half million euro in bringing tourism in Ghent back to a healthy level. The local authorities and the tourism industry have set a new course together: post-coronavirus tourism will be local and sustainable, with a focus on spreading tourism in terms of time and location.

The recovery plan consists of three parts. Firstly, communication campaigns will put Ghent’s unique assets on the map. The focus will be on overnight tourism and on Ghent’s singularity. Secondly, the City of Ghent has joined forces with local entrepreneurs to develop a new range of coronavirus-proof tourist services tailored to the needs of specific target groups who deliberately opt for Ghent. Thirdly, the City of Ghent will provide support to organisers of conferences and meetings in Ghent.

Ghent is ready to welcome visitors. The tourism of the future starts today. We explicitly opt for sustainable tourism which is in balance with the city and its inhabitants, nearby, unique and dynamic thanks to all entrepreneurs from the industry who have shown considerable resilience over the past few months. We are glad we can now resume our activities together for Ghent.

Bram Van Braeckevelt , Deputy Mayor for Tourism

Campaigns: nearby yet unique

Our first job is to bring tourism back to a healthy level. Different online, radio and television campaigns will not only be aimed at Belgian visitors but, from 15 June onwards, also at visitors from the neighbouring countries. Visit Gent promotes the city as a unique destination with a focus on the Van Eyck year. Ghent will also present itself as the perfect starting point for walking and cycling tours. By collaborating with creative Ghentians, the city ensures an original and unconventional campaign befitting Ghent.

Social media campaigns as well as campaigns fronted by influencers such as Nic Balthazar will convince specific groups to visit Ghent. These groups include overnight tourists who are interested in the many assets Ghent has to offer: culture, culinary experiences, unique sights, lots of things to do, connection with Ghentians and a large ecological scene.

A new course with local entrepreneurs

The City of Ghent assists tourist entrepreneurs in the short term with the development of a new coronavirus-proof tourist offer, enabling them to concentrate on receiving the first visitors. The coming summer season will be centred around two themes. In June and July, Jan Van Eyck takes centre stage: the 7senses tour, KleurEyck in the Design Museum Gent and, from 1 July onwards, the Ghent Altarpiece at St Bavo's Cathedral. In Augustus, tourism in Ghent will focus on families with children.

In the longer term, attention will be paid to a sustainable range of products and the seasonal spread of tourism. Within this context, cycling and walking routes will lead visitors to the sub-municipalities, the periphery, the green belt and less frequently visited sites in the city centre. Guides can play a part in this as well. Conference tourism, which also takes place outside the summer season, should help maintain the balance. Sustainability will also be an important factor, including steps towards vehicle electrification and the development of wheelchair-friendly activities and infrastructure.

In addition, the City of Ghent ensures that everyone can enjoy going on holiday, even with a limited budget. Inhabitants of Ghent can once again go to the ‘Rap op Stap' travel agency at local service centre De Knoop in Ledeberg.

 

The tourism industry has been severely impacted, but has shown a high degree of resilience and entrepreneurship. This recovery plan is the result of numerous contacts and consultations. We continue the dialogue, because future-proofing the industry requires cooperation. Like Ghent, tourism should become sustainable, dynamic and accessible to everyone.

Bram Van Braeckevelt , Deputy Mayor for Tourism

Focus on conference tourism

The City of Ghent can rely on a dedicated team specialised in MICE (meeting, incentive, conference and event) tourism. A large number of conferences and events were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The City of Ghent aims to host conferences and events by expanding its range of services for organisers. That is why a call for proposals is currently under preparation via the urban marketing fund.

Professional and academic meetings and conferences are important not only for their high financial return, but also for the knowledge exchange and network opportunities they create. The focus will be on making conferences and meetings more sustainable.

Future-proofing tourism trough cooperation

Cooperation is key to reviving the tourism industry in Ghent: with tourism actors ranging from VZW Gent Hotels and Puur Gent to the museums and other tourist offices in Flanders and beyond. Within this scope, the campaign 'Vlaanderen vakantieland - #welkomterug' was launched in partnership with the other Flemish art cities, Toerisme Oost-Vlaanderen and Toerisme Vlaanderen. A digital platform is linked to this campaign as well.