Cycling and Flemish cuisine join arts, nature and historic buildings in new Flemish tourism drive

The Flemish government is investing nearly 220 million euros on tourism over the next five years.  The focus is on nature, tradition and cycling. Nature areas, castles, conference centres and religious heritage sites will all benefit.  A Flemish Culinary Centre is being established and a new centre devoted to the sport of cycling is being created in Oudenaarde (East Flanders).

Tourism is one of the sectors that suffered the greatest blow during the pandemic.  Visitor numbers collapsed from 14 million to 5 million last year.  The sector’s losses are estimated at 17 billion euros with full recovery only expected in 2024.

Tourism minister Zuhal Demir (nationalist): „We became more familiar with our own surroundings and valued them more.  We need to cherish our pride in our local environment. We are moving away from mass tourism and will strengthen local communities”.

42.5 million euros is being invested in national parks and nature areas. A further 43.2 million goes on strengthening Flemish heritage with more attention for Flemish masters, Rubens, Van Eyck, Ensor and Bruegel.

Further investments are planned at the Castles of Poeke and Leut, at religious heritage sites including the Capuchin Monastery in Bruges and Herkenrode Abbey.

A Flemish Culinary Centre, where tourists can become familiar with Flemish regional fare and celebrated Flemish chefs, is being set up.  Flemish brewers are also being put in the spotlight. 

A further 8 million has been earmarked to promote cycling routes and establish “De Ronde”, a centre devoted to the Tour of Flanders cycling race in Oudenaarde.  

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