The world at your feet
Every day, different people and cultures from all over the world meet together at Brussels Airport. Foreign guests discover our culture, gastronomy and countryside, and thus become new ambassadors for our country. Belgian tourists or business travellers have a choice of more than 200 direct destinations all over the world. Thanks to the airport, it is possible to experience new things each day, to discover the world and meet fascinating people.
Travel around the world from Brussels
The Smekens family are citizens of the world in the real sense of the word. Matriarch Marie-Paul once lived for a while in Spain and Singapore, and today her sons live in Kyoto, Barcelona and Ethiopia. Marie-Paule: “All of us have the travel bug in us. So we feel quite at home at the airport.”
Marie-Paule goes on trips five or six times a year, to see some new corner of the world or to visit the children. This time, they're off to visit their son in Barcelona, to celebrate Marie-Paule's 65th birthday. Her three other sons will be travelling with her from Brussels Airport.
Why does she like travelling from Brussels Airport? Marie-Paule: “The range of flights on offer is really huge; there are good connections between the different flights and the prices are usually lower than from foreign airports. The new Connector Building is fantastic, there are nice shops and restaurants, there is plenty of light and from the cosy seating areas you have a fascinating view of the tarmac. The price of the car park is much better than we expected, but there's five of us now when we're all together. And otherwise we take the taxi or the train. We live in Waterloo, so the airport is nearby."
“Together with Brussels Airport we are putting Belgium on the world map"
For foreign tourists, the airport is the departure point to the most beautiful places in Belgium. Visitors come from both distant and neighbouring countries. “For that reason, Brussels Airport is a crucial partner for us,” say Toerisme Vlaanderen, visit.brussels and Wallonië-Brussel Toerisme.
“Toerisme Vlaanderen collaborates in different ways with Brussels Airport,” says CEO Peter De Wilde. “Together, we promote new connections with Brussels as final destination or stopover. We also share our statistics with each other, such as the number of overnight stays. These data are very important, for example when the airport talks to new airlines."
Patrick Plamper, CEO of visit.brussels, also stresses the importance of direct connections. “If a new route is going to start up, we immediately see it. Because each new flight with Brussels as its destination means numerous extra tourists every day. On average, a tourist spends between 200 and 400 Euros a day. So, a massive incentive for the Belgian economy!"
To encourage tourists to come to our country, the tourist services are doing lots of promotion abroad. Michel Vankeerberghen, Managing Director of Wallonia-Brussels Tourism: “Our permanent employees in our neighbouring countries play an important role for bringing tourists to our regions. But we are casting our nets even further and are conducting campaigns beyond the boundaries of Europe. Of course, we take account of the direct connections between the target countries and Belgium.
Which foreign visitors do the tourist services target in particular? “Japan and the large urban areas in China and India are especially important to us. We draw foreign culture lovers to Flanders to let them experience our historical cities of art, the craftsmanship and the rich dining culture,” says Peter De Wilde.
“We also target Brazil and Russia,” Patrick Bontinck adds. “It is crucial that the world rediscovers Brussels as a capital city and the gateway to Europe. Our capital city is brimming with opportunities and creativity. It is an eclectic mix of cultures and languages. So it's the perfect destination for tourists and business travellers to stay for a few days and then travel onwards. Our ambition? Ten million overnight stays by 2020. So we can acquaint the whole world with our world heritage, the comic-book culture and the splendour of Art Nouveau.”
Michel Vankeerberghen: “Wallonia-Brussels Tourism would like to provide a thematic offer, and an offer for tourists visiting family and friends. We focus on tourists who share the same interests, such as hikers and cyclists, beer and chocolate lovers, people who like to discover the countryside or wishing to explore our culture. We also appeal to visitors who travel in the same way: in couples, with the family, in groups or among friends. We seize every opportunity to encourage travellers to visit our destinations, specifically with various posters and our information kiosk in the arrivals hall of Brussels Airport."
Peter De Wilde: “In the future, we will be making more efforts in the field of business tourism, in collaboration with Brussels Airport. With the location of Brussels in the heart of Europe and the wide range of unique meeting locations, we have great advantages at our disposal.”