KAHINI CHAKRABORTY – Mumbai
With an aim to highlight and attract Indian travellers to lesser known destinations in Belgium, Toerisme Gent and Toerisme Brugge made their maiden visit to India. Both the city tourism boards are looking at targeting FIT segment. Talking exclusively to Express TravelWorld on the sidelines of the recently held Outbound Travel Roadshow in Mumbai, Nathalie de Neve, marketing manager, Toerisme Gent said, “Gent is definitely more of an FIT destination considering its size and attractions. The Indian traveller that we think would be interested in Gent is the affluent, well-travelled and is open to other ways of life, other tastes and is looking for a relaxed and romantic city.” While according to Bruno Janssens, marketing, Toerisme Brugge, since Brussels and Antwerp are better known in India, it is the time to start promoting Brugge and Gent. Brugge aims to attract the individual travellers; the frequent traveller who has seen Paris and London and is now ready for something new, something different, beyond those cities.”
As Tourism Flanders has the market knowledge to promote the city, the historic cities through partnerships with travel companies and airlines, Toerisme Gent and Toerisme Brugge will work together with them. “Working together is essential. When one comes from India, it is not to visit one or our cities alone. We need to think about packages for the whole of Flanders, Brussels included,” added Neve.
Talking about places of interest that the tourism boards are promoting, Neve added, “We are promoting the general historical heritage sight-seeing as both cities have a medieval (12-15th century) city centre. With three towers from the Middle Ages as its skyline, Gent is referred to as a Medieval Manhattan. Gent has a castle in the centre of the city that dates back to the 11th century that can be visited today. The Lys river runs through the city and boat trips are the best way to discover the city.” While Brugge is looking at promoting the entire city as a destination for honeymooners, couples and other travellers.
For Gent as far as overnight stays are concerned the top seven source markets are Belgians, Dutch, English, French, Germans, Spanish and Italians, so basically, Europeans. While for Brugge, the neighbouring countries are the most important markets – UK (30 per cent) , France (20 per cent), Germany, (15 per cent), The Netherlands (12 per cent) and the domestic market followed by Spain. The Indian market is expected to show significant growth the following years.