Belgium’s Federal Government has now recognised Ghent as a tourist centre, the city’s Alderwoman for Economic Affairs and Commerce, Sofie Bracke, announced on Sunday.
This recognition means mainly that businesses there no longer have to comply with the obligation to close their doors one day per week, Belga news agency reports Ms. Bracke as saying in a statement.
The city had stated for years now that it wished to be deemed a tourist site, a recognition that has been in existence since 2009, and is granted to resorts and tourist centres. In Ghent’s case, it will take effect next year, and probably in January, Ms. Bracke (Open Vld) said.
Some residents have expressed fear that there would be greater traffic in the city centre while unions worry about the social consequences for employees of retail stores. However, recognition as a tourist centre does not mean businesses are obliged to open every day, the alderwoman said.
“Its main consequences are freedom and flexibility for businesses so they can better deploy their advantages in terms of service and experience,” according to the municipality.