Flanders may not be very well known but this tiny Belgian territory is making enough noise to make travellers finally take notice. We ask Julie Davidson, Trade Manager, North America for Flanders-Brussels Tourism how travel agents should package Flanders, what’s new and exciting and why it shouldn’t be flying under the radar.
1. What is Flanders most known for?
Beer, chocolate and waffles!
2. What’s one thing travellers don’t know about Flanders but should?
There’s more than one thing they should know. English is widely spoken so there is no language barrier. Brussels is only 80 minutes from Paris and under two hours from London or Amsterdam by high-speed train so it is really easy to get to. And there are more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita in Flanders than in any other region of Europe!
3. How would you suggest travel agents package Flanders? As a standalone destination, a day trip or city combo?
I would suggest that they offer it as an add-on to a trip to London, Paris or Amsterdam. In three days/nights, clients can see Brussels and Bruges and maybe even one other place (Ghent or Antwerp). It is a wonderful addition.
4. It’s hard for smaller European cities and towns to compete with Rome, Paris and London. What are some things that Flanders offers that the big destinations don’t?
Because they are smaller cities, they can be explored on foot. There is a real café culture in Flanders; when the weather is fine you can sit out on a terrace, have a beer and watch the world go by! Flanders is also a small region so none of the cities are very far apart from each other. It is only one hour from Brussels to Bruges by rail so that can easily be done as a day trip. Antwerp is only 40 minutes from Brussels by rail.
5. Are there any new attractions and/or hotels that agents and travellers should know about?
Yes, a couple of wonderful new museums have opened in Antwerp. One of them is the MAS, which houses the municipal collections of the city of Antwerp, but what is really interesting is the building itself. The view from the rooftop is spectacular!
For more information on travel to Flanders go to visitflanders.us.