Many destinations have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How is Bruges currently dealing with this crisis?
Bruges is a very famous and international renowned citybreak destination. In 2019 (pre-covid) we had on average 8.2 million visitors per year in our city. As we are a very popular leisure destination globally of course we have been affected very hard. After two difficult years for our tourism industry we are fully back in business. Both on leisure and MICE level visitors have returned since a couple of months. We have heavily invested in awareness campaigns where possible to keep Bruges top of mind even during COVID. Now, given international travel is possible again we keep on working on the awareness but also with ˊcall to actionˋ campaigns and incentives to motivate visitors to come back to our city. Also for the MICE industry we have a subvention programme that will be rolled out later this year, campaigns are on the way on both corporate and the association level.
How do you think COVID will change our industry, and what measures can be taken, in your opinion?
One short note would be that we all have become more aware of our actions. When travelling for business we think twice. Not only for our own health but also for the planet and the persons in our inner circles. This happens not only on a personal level but also in the strategy of a lot of companies and associations. Depending on the topic of a meeting or conference I am sure a lot of meeting planners do reflect on the best format – either fully in-person, hybrid or online. We have become even more flexible than ever before in our industry. This will be key in the future to serve even better our clients and to be there to support them with whatever they need to organise, be it a great meeting, congress or incentive in our destinations.
Did you know, that…?
- Bruges has a brand new and state-of-the-art convention centre called Bruges, Meeting & Convention Centre that opened in December 2021?
- the entire city centre of Bruges has been declared UNESCO World Heritage? Bruges, where heritage MEETS innovation!
- Bruges has a lot of expertise on-site in the domains of port, ICT & Mechatronics, tourism & culture and healthcare? It is not a surprise these are the economic pillars of our city and our region. More information you can find here.
Where to meet?
There are plenty of conference locations ranging from larger venues like the BMCC, Concert hall and Old Saint John (Oud Sint-Jan) to smaller locations which are very typical of the medieval character of our city where you can meet at locations ranging back to the 15th century or behind the facades of ancient houses of merchants. A lot of hotels in Bruges do also offer meeting capacity. Bigger meeting hotels are Radisson Blu, Crowne Plaza, Grand hotel Casselbergh, NH hotel but also some very nice hotels near the Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre.
Where to stay?
We have in total 97 hotels (not taking B&B’s and hostels into account), ranging from international chain hotels to charming boutique hotels for which Bruges is famous. We do have plenty of dedicated meeting hotels as well in Bruges. We have a capacity of 3,400 beds in Bruges, in hotels from 1* to 5*. We do have two 5* hotels being Dukes Palace (5* superior) and Relais & Chateau Heritage. We also have numerous 4* hotels, some 3* and budget class hotels. More information on our hotel offer and some examples are found on our website where you can select hotels with meeting facilities, such as Radisson Blu hotel, Crowne Plaza, but also family run hotels like Le Bois de Bruges, Portinari, hotel Sablon which do offer meeting facilities as well.
How to get there?
When there, a key feature is that Bruges is a super compact city. Once you arrive in Bruges you can reach your venue, hotel, bars, restaurants and attractions with just a few minutes’ walk! No need for public transport, taxis or any polluting transportation.
Do you offer any special services/assistance for associations?
Yes we do. We offer plenty of support but also subventions depending on the format of the meeting. If they wish for more information they can contact myself or my team. We don’t have the subvention programme listed on our website.
Please do also have a look at our interactive and digital Meeting & Incentive guide where you can find plenty of information on Bruges as a MICE destination.
Personal recommendation/insider tips?
Bruges has so much to offer and can please any delegate or visitor. There is culture with over 13 museums, or walking and cycling in the green parks and gardens in our city or on a 8 km track around the old city walls. Then there are the romantic Bruges canals for a boat tour, or a ride on a horse-tram or carriage to see the highlights of the city. Climb the Belfry, or enjoy our rich culture of beer or chocolate!
More information on our general Visit Bruges website: https://www.visitbruges.be/imaginebruges-4/12-top-attractions-in-2022
Whom to contact?
Jasmine Kestens, Sales Manager Stad Brugge Visit Bruges Convention Bureau
tel: +32 50 444 666