Apart from waffles and chocolate, Belgium is very well known for its rich beer culture. However, the tourism sector in Flanders does not yet fully profit from this illustrious reputation, until now.
The tourism sector has suffered a double blow in recent years, first as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and travel measures imposed to curb it, and now due to the conflict in Ukraine, which both have had a negative impact on their business. Now, the region is looking for alternative ways to sustain the industry.
As per Flemish Minister of Tourism, Zuhal Demir, “Especially now that the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine has caused many brewers to lose a substantial part of their sales market, we want to use our relaunch funds to provide additional opportunities to put the beer culture in the spotlight.”
This weekend, she announced that the government, through Tourism Flanders, will invest €3 million to put Flemish beer brewers on the tourist map and improve the experience of its unique beer culture in and around the brewers.
According to Demir, there are still many unexplored opportunities to get to know the products, the different beer styles, the traditions, and the beer culture’s authentic stories during a visit to Flanders.
The funds will go towards infrastructure projects and digital products at the brewers in Flanders, from the construction and/or renovation and fitting out of permanent infrastructure as part of the tourist access and experience, but also virtual reality experiences.
Belgium’s beer culture — a combination of the centuries-old beer tradition and the craftsmanship of passionate brewers who still create beers of unique quality — is recognised by UNESCO as an “intangible cultural heritage.”
Demir explained that telling the story of local beer brewers, including the smaller ones, and letting tourists experience this, fits in with the region’s shift away from mass tourism in which “increasingly powerful multinationals want to make as much profit as possible as quickly as possible without creating any real added value for the local community.”