It’s a war zone

By | Category: Travel news
Grand Place

the Grand Place in Brussels – not so busy as it was a few weeks ago. But will the crowds return?

That is how Visit Brussels claims some of the international media has stigmatised the Belgian capital since links were found between the terrorists responsible for so much loss of life in Paris last November.

It’s bunkum, of course. There is a perception that Brussels had terrorists living in it. But so has London and New York, so has Paris and countless other capital cities around the world. It is just that Brussels has suffered because of the headlines.

The tourist board says, unsurprisingly, that tourism numbers are down so it has launched a campaign called #Call Brussels in an attempt to remove any doubts that potential visitors might have in travelling to Brussels. The idea is that you call someone living in the area that you want to visit and talk to them about how the suburb or area is today. This real-time solution will reveal that all is well and that there are no safety issues in the area. At least that is what the tourist board hopes.

You could call the promotion high risk. But it is also perhaps the best thing that a city that has had so many news stories about can do to reassure potential visitors. As the tourist board says, itself, “Who better than the people of Brussels to answer the questions that tourists hesitant about travelling to Brussels might have…”

Visit Brussels has set up telephone boxes in three locations in Brussels: at the Mont des Arts, on the Place Flagey and on the Place Communale in Molenbeek. Passers-by will be able to answer questions from foreign tourists, who can choose which telephone box to call via the website, www.call.brussels. A webcam will film the surroundings and it will be broadcast live on the website.

A suggestion is that visitors meet up with one of the one hundred volunteers that make up the network of Brussels Greeters.  A greeter will meet you at a pre-agreed spot and take you around the city for a couple of hours showing you some of what you might want to see and a few things that only locals know exist and where they are. It’s free and it’s due to the enthusiasm of the greeters that make it so enjoyable. They are just the sort of people to make you forget the headlines in the media and enjoy the city.

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