Following Fashion and Design in 2006 and the comic strip in 2009, for 2012 the Brussels Capital Region decided to put the spotlight on gastronomy with the Brusselicious theme year.
The year commenced in party mood with the world record for chef’s hat throwing on Brussels’ Grande Place/Grote Markt. From suppliers, artisans and caterers up to the city’s major chefs, on 9 January they together threw 665 chef’s hats in the air.
The Tram Experience set out for the first time in March, six days a week offered the unique opportunity to savour a menu created by a two-star-crowned chef, while discovering the capital in an especially fun way. Today, 10,000 reservations for the tram have already been made.
The hotel sector also got aboard the Brusselicious train, with throughout the year 25 hotels offering Brusselicious breakfasts consisting of delicious local products. The 300,000th breakfast was served on 28 August.
Brusselicious also linked up with other Brussels themes. With the Dîner des Misérables, the 150th anniversary was marked in true celebratory fashion; during the Ommegang, people could experience how an early evening meal would have been in the time of Emperor Charles; for the National Holiday, the Place Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein was transformed into a real Resto National; and during the Comic Strip Dinner, young and old alike enjoyed colourful ‘street food’ in the MOOF. Around 2500 people attended these dinners – and there is still the chance to take part. The Slow Food Dinner is being held on 20 September, and on 25 October you can gather round a table with Toots Thielemans for his 90th birthday.
Of course, Brussels gastronomy has to include chocolate. On 8 April Brusselicious secured its second world record, with over 5500 people gathering 505,000 Easter Eggs in 10 different Brussels parks on that day.
Within the scope of Brusselicious, Dinner in the Sky was set up in Brussels for four weeks. This Brussels initiative of world renown provided 2000 lucky diners with dinner at an altitude.
From 3 June, both locals and visitors were invited every Sunday to a piQniQ in the park – an extremely relaxed concept that managed to draw around 10,000. This Sunday 16 September we are bringing the cycle to an end with a particularly festive event, linked with Bruxelles Champêtre.
The theme year as a strategy
The Brussels Capital Region has been engaged with tourism in Brussels since 2009. The theme years serve to make the link between Brussels and its most important assets known to the world – whether this involves Fashion & Design, the Comic Strip of Gastronomy. Up to 2009, the number of overnight stays in Brussels rose by around 1 to 2% annually, and in 2009 it was 9%. Despite the current crisis, in 2011 Brussels nevertheless managed an increase of 6.9%. Brussels should also continue being spared from the crisis in 2012, with an increase in the number of overnight stays by 3.5% in July and 4.5% in August, compared with the same months last year. If this trend continues, by the end of 2012 there will have been around 6.3 million overnight stays (compared with 6 million last year). This means that Brussels is still on course for reaching its goal of 10 million overnights stays in 2020.
Hospitality Industry and tourism: more than 16,000 jobs!
On 31 December 2008, in total there were 25,803 people employed in the hospitality industry, while there were 28,624 locals working in all of the activities together with tourism.
Figures from Actiris (the Brussels employment monitor) reveal that around 14,301 are active in tourism-associated jobs with in hospitality industry, and thus tourism activity employs the most people by far. What is most notable is that is in fact the 39% increase in the number of employed in this sector over 10 years.
Also among the self-employed, the highest number of service providers in the hospitality industry are involved in tourism, with 1,823 people working in tourism from a total of 6,144 for every activity. This is 5% of the self-employed in the Brussels Capital Region.
If we count employees and the self-employed together there are 34,800 associated with tourism – or 4.94% of all of those working in the Brussels Capital Region (621,483).
This means that the hospitality industry constitutes the greatest share of tourism-associated employment, with 16,124 people.
It is interesting to note that 70% of employees in the hospitality industry live in the Brussels Capital Region, while for other sectors with this around 48%.
According to the UNWTO, the World Tourism Organisation, tourists spend around €200 to €250 a day at their destination, and thus the economic impact of tourism is by no means limited to the tourism sector.
Source = Belgian Tourist Office