On Friday 11 October 2019, the tourist office of the Belgian coast, Westtoer, invited members of the Luxembourgish media to discover its new campaigns and activities at a press conference at La Pomme Cannelle restaurant on Boulevard Royal in Luxembourg-ville.
Every year, nearly 60,000 Luxembourgish tourists flock to the Belgian coast, be it for an overnight stay, a weekend or a longer trip. In addition, around 1,500 Luxembourgers have a second home on the coast with the top locations being Ostend, Knokke-Heist and Blankenberge. Luxembourgish tourists tend to spend significantly more money than any other nationality when on holiday at the coast: €122 per person per night, or €38 million per year. About 40% stay in hotels, whilst the rest opt for holiday homes or apartments. As such, the Belgian coast relies in many ways on tourism from its Luxembourgish neighbours.
Regarding the appeal of the Belgian coast for Luxembourgers, Liesbet Billiet, regional manager of Le Littoral ("the Belgian Coast") at the Westtoer tourist office, explained the role played by the sea and beaches, the desire to relax and the draw towards gastronomy, shopping and art in the region. Ms. Billiet explained how Westtoer had regrouped all its beach and nautical activities on its website in response to increased interest, as well as the fact that studies had proven that sea air was healthier than air elsewhere. This fits into the appeal of "vacances vitaminées", which sees tourists coming to the Belgian coast for relaxation and to recharge their batteries.
Liesbet Billiet added that Luxembourgish tourists were coming to the coast increasingly often during low season, ie outside of summer and during weekdays. Indeed, Westtoer recently launched a promotional weekday campaign, in the framework of which various hotels in the region are offering three nights for the price of two on weekdays. Moreover, the region offers visitors the chance to visit 32 permanent artworks, to be enjoyed even in winter.
According to representatives of Westtoer, however, it is gastronomy that most draws Luxembourgers to the Belgian coast. One of the tourist office's most recent campaigns, “Les saveurs du Littoral”, reflects this trend. Through this campaign, the Province of West Flanders and Westtoer, showcase local products from the North Sea. The project aims to promote regional gastronomy in Belgium and abroad but also to support Belgian fishermen in Nieuwpoort, Ostend and Zeebrugge, who supply the Littoral chefs with fresh products from the North Sea daily. "From the sea to the plate" is the central theme of this project, which includes a newspaper, "Les saveurs du Littoral", and a television spot this autumn.
Members of the press who attended the conference on Friday were able to sample some of the region's gastronomical offer right here in Luxembourg thanks to Paul Fourier, a Belgian chef who grew up on the Belgian coast but who has worked in Luxembourg for many years (currently at La Pomme Cannelle). Mr. Fourier prepared a traditional "mer du nord" lunch using fresh products from the North Sea and taking inspiration from recipes from his own childhood at the coast.
Further details of the latest activities and campaigns related to tourism at the Belgian coast are available on the Westtoer (in Dutch) and Le Littoral (available in English, French, Dutch and German) websites at https://www.westtoer.be/nl and https://www.belgiancoast.co.uk/en.