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    Wallonia targets major increase in business tourism

    © Belga
    © Belga

    As Belgium prepares to host one of its greatest sporting events, the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix – Spa Francorchamps, Wallonia’s Tourism Minister, René Collin, said on Tuesday that his region aimed to pursue the development of its Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) Sector, and increase overnight stays there from the present 600,000 to 823,000 by 2023. In Wallonia, the MICE sector has an annual gross turnover of 57.5 million euros in overnight stays alone. Additionally, the average tourist in this sector spends an estimated 97 euros a day.

    In 20 years, the sector, which formerly lagged behind in Wallonia, has made great strides, growing annually by about 5.7% and it now accounts for 8% of the region’s tourism supply. At the global level, the MICE sector represents about 14% of tourist reservations.

    After creating a specialized office in each province to register and organize the tourism supply in order to boost the sector’s development Wallonia has decided to earmark 1.5 million dollars to enable the non-profit Wallonia Belgium Tourism, WBT, to promote the region’s MICE sector in collaboration with the Wallonia Export Investment Agency, AWEX.

    Further, the Government Tourism Advisory Service, CGT, will coordinate the establishment of a network of operators, pool tourist information, pursue the development of the sector and woo investors by creating tools for collecting and analyzing statistics related to business tourism.

    Wallonia registers some 7.5 million overnight stays annually in 6,040 tourist lodgings offering a total of some 115,856 beds. The region attracts 10 million visitors in 310 tourist attractions each year. Tourism, which accounts for 6% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product, generates close to 60,000 non-transferable jobs, Collin recalled.

    Jason Bennett
    The Brussels Times