“Controversial tree attracted visitors”

No fewer than one and a half million people visited the 11th Brussels Christmas Market "Winter Wonders". The market opened on 30 November and ran until today. According to the Mayor of Brussels Freddy Thielemans and the City Alderman responsible for tourism Philippe Close (both Francophone socialist) the success of Winter Wonders 2012 is in part due to the controversial electronic Christmas tree that stood on the city’s central square, the Grote Markt.

1.5 million people from home and abroad visited Winter Wonders between 30 November and 6 January. This is about the same as last year. However, hotels in the capital report that booking in December 2012 were up by 3 to 4% on December 2011. On average, around 65% of available rooms were occupied.

"The "buzz" surrounding the electronic Christmas tree has given Brussels an avant-garde image”, Alderman Close told journalists. Mr Close added that the tree was the subject of 200 articles in the foreign press, 100 domestic press articles and 50 television reports.

The tree was climbed 6,936 times, raising 8,130 euro for the not for profit organisation Samusocial.

However, the tree was not to everyone’s taste and Mr Close promised that this year a traditional Christmas tree will be put up on the Grote Markt.