KAHINI CHAKRABORTY – Mumbai
With an aim to attract Indian travellers to lesser known destinations in Belgium, Toerisme Gent and Toerisme Brugge made their maiden visit to India. Both city tourism boards are looking at targeting the FIT segment. Talking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, 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, we think now 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.”
With Tourism Flanders’ market knowledge to promote the historic cities through partnerships with travel companies and airlines that can reach the specific audience, Toerisme Gent and Toerisme Brugge will work together with Tourism Flanders. “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 to promote Gent and Brugge along with Flanders and Brussels,” 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 the top seven source markets for overnight stays are Belgium, The Netherlands, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. 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 in the coming years.