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Brussels, a sustainable destination

The Minister-President of the French-speaking Brussels Government (Cocof), responsible for Tourism, Christos Doulkeridis and the CEO of VisitBrussels, Patrick Bontinck present the initiatives that have been introduced to make Brussels a sustainable destination.

Following in the footsteps of many other cities that have already drawn up a strategic sustainable development plan, the Minister-President of the French-speaking Brussels Government (Cocof) and VisitBrussels are committed to making Brussels the ultimate sustainable tourist destination by 2014. The process began a number of years ago, but work needed to be done to breathe new life into it and make it viable both in terms of leisure tourism and in terms of the Meetings Industry.

A number of initiatives have been introduced: the Regional Sustainable Development Plan launched by the Brussels-Capital Region; membership of the “Slow Cities” network; more and more businesses and hotels securing ecolabels; the launch of the “Green Key” label; the measures taken by many companies in the tourist industry to introduce a CSR (corporate social responsibility) programme; organisers of conferences, events and incentives who are increasingly keen to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and to society in the context of their events; and “social legacy” programmes.

Every year Brussels hosts a large number of events with a sustainable theme – the European Wind Energy Conference & Exhibition, the Sustainable Tourism show or AIDEX (the world’s biggest humanitarian aid conference and exhibition) to name but a few – and is keen to do everything it can to host even more similar events in the years to come.

“Brussels is now Europe’s leading sustainable city in terms of environmental policies. With this in mind, when it comes to sustainable tourism it is important to give Brussels a brand new modern, even sexy image, in other words, an image that is far removed from any of the old cliches,” explains Christos Doulkeridis.

As the Capital of Europe, Brussels needs to portray itself as a sustainable tourist destination and base its city marketing around that. “Of course, all of this will only be possible with the support and collaboration of our partners and everybody involved in the tourism industry in Brussels”, continues Patrick Bontinck. For this reason, VisitBrussels recently joined the “Global Sustainable Tourism Council” (GSTC) in the context of an international partnership committed to the promotion of sustainable practices for the tourism industry around the world.

Alongside this, particular attention will be paid to corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the coming months, and a CSR programme will be implemented. VisitBrussels has set itself the target of securing the regional “Entreprise eco-dynamique” label.

VisitBrussels will also take on the task of raising awareness within the Brussels tourism industry about the benefits of green and sustainable policies. The not-for-profit organisation already supports businesses’ attempts to obtain the “Green Key” ecolabel and does everything it can to make sure that its events are organised responsibly.

“I am very pleased to be able to announce that there is at last a press pack for the international press about sustainable tourism in Brussels, to highlight the great assets that we have to offer. There are also two websites dedicated to these benefits: one for leisure, the other for MICE”, concludes Christos Doulkeridis.