Flanders launches charm offensive for tourists


The Flemish tourism minister launched the year-long #shareoursmile campaign at Brussels airport, welcoming tourists and handing out travel passes and beer

‘We have a lot to share’

Flanders’ tourism minister, Ben Weyts, was at Brussels Airport on Sunday to launch a campaign aimed at attracting tourists back to the region following the terrorist attacks earlier this year. The #shareoursmile campaign sets out to “shine a spotlight on our generous hospitality”, Weyts said. “We have a lot to share because we have a lot to offer.”

The airport was chosen for the launch as it’s the first and last sight many tourists get of Belgium. “The best advertisement for people to visit us is the sight of a tourist leaving with a smile on their face,” Weyts said. The campaign aims to raise that smile, with 60,000 badges and 25,000 door-hangers in hotels, with videos and contests on social media, and with local actions from Toerisme Vlaanderen at tourist hot-spots.

The campaign will cover the whole of Flanders and will last all summer. The government has set aside €200,000 for the action. Toerisme Vlaanderen has five information desks at the airport to welcome tourists, 500 of whom Weyts presented with welcome packages containing surprise gifts including a day pass for De Lijn and a sample of Belgian beer.

“We’re showing off our hospitality,” Weyts said. “Each of the partners will put their own stamp on #shareoursmile, but the basic message is the same. We’re inviting the world to pay Flanders a visit. Welcome!”

The campaign has the support of Thalys, Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn for joint promotions in neighbouring countries.

Photo courtesy Shareoursmile.be