Why Brussels?

By Elisabeth Van Ingelgem, Director Strategy & International Development, visit.brussels

Elisabeth Van Ingelgem, Director Strategy & International Development

Bright Brussels Festival 2021; credit: Visit Brussels

The European Association Summit 2019 in Brussels; credit: Visit Brussels

Many countries have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How is Brussels currently dealing with this crisis?

Since the start in March 2020 we have put a cooperation process with our Brussels tourism, hospitality and culture stakeholders. Digital meetings that have been kept until today, and serve as a continuous consultation process with different partners on the variety of challenges that we have as destination. The most recent one was end of November 2021, that enabled us to prepare the roadmap of activities for 2022. This process also goes along our dialogue with the authorities and other public agencies, that helps us to focus on the right investments and assistance to the sector and alignment of public policies.

The MICE industry is also struggling during these difficult times. How do you think this will change our industry, and what measures can be taken, in your opinion?

The MICE sector is reinventing itself, keeping pace on the latest sustainability, ethics and audiovisual trends. We see it with advances in technology that applies both to venues and event organisers. In Brussels we have put an emphasis on investments in this domain, which allows us to host hybrid meetings with ease. The meetings are also changing their character and adapting to the circumstances, with new formats, new timings, opening their events to a new audience. Our aim is to create the best conditions for holding a large meeting, a small networking event or hi-tech spaces for speakers who are present here but are presenting to a global audience. We also strive to have events that are socially and ecologically responsible, while also economically successful.

Did you know, that…?

  • Did you know that Brussels has over 2,400 international associations headquarters on its ground and is Europe’s biggest center for journalists. If you want to be heard, say it in Brussels!
  • Did you know that Brussels has 8,000 hectares of green spaces, meaning 28m² of green space per inhabitant, and is one of the greenest cities in Europe. This green space is made up of many historic parks, pleasant little public gardens, broad tree-lined avenues, woods, and even a forest.
  • Did you know that the finest conditions for events organisations have been ensured thanks to the deployment of Brussels Health and Safety Label, which applies to all operators in the tourism, hospitality, events and cultural sectors. Its objective is to guarantee that organisations have put in place the necessary health and safety measure for their staff and visitors. The label has a certification process and the list of those who have obtained it is constantly updated.

Where to meet?

Brussels has meetings districts of a diverse character, thanks in no small part to their architecture and the history of their establishment. A combination of art and history in the area surrounding the city centre, a modern and corporate district close to Brussels North station, a functional business character around Louise, a focus on trade fairs and large conferences on the former universal exhibition plateau of Heysel, and the evolution of former industrial buildings into event venues in the west and south of Brussels.

Our convention centre, the Square, is at the heart of the city, just opposite the central station, and encircled by various museums and hotels. The Gare Maritime with Maison de la Poste offers a whole new experience in the Tour & Taxis area, surrounded by a park and a whole new green district. In the coming years, the south train station area will be completely renewed, the Kanal contemporary art museum will offer new possibilities, and a new Mediapark will emerge on Brussels' east side.

Where to stay?

In Brussels we have a wide range of hotel types with over 20,000 rooms of all categories, as well as a long established network of bed and breakfast places and the new co-living possibilities for longer stays.

Our hotel capacity has shown resilience in adverse conditions and we were pleased to see some newcomers opening their premises in 2021. A comfortable stay at the Residence Inn by Marriott at Brussels Airport may ease your travel. Combining various business or diplomatic meetings and cultural activities in the vicinity of the Moxy Hotel in Ixelles and Hotel Avenue Louise by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts may be suitable for your trip. A more relaxed time closer to the city centre at the Holiday Inn Express Grande Place or combined with a large conference at DoubleTree by Hilton. The five-star Juliana Hotel Brussels has also opened in September 2021 in a completely redesigned historical building. And more announcements will be made next year.

How to get there?

Brussels is a destination easy to reach by plane, rail, road and bicycle. Connected with the Americas, Africa, Asia and with all capitals in Europe, you will always find a way to get to Brussels by plane from over 200 destinations. Within three hours you can also reach Brussels from other major European transport hubs by train, such as Cologne, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or London. And in 2021 a specific cycling hub has been inaugurated in the city center for those using the pan-European network of cycling paths.

Do you offer any special services/assistance for associations?

The visit.brussels Convention and Association Bureau provides assistance and information for events’ organisation, contacts within the city and association setup. We give support in preparing and presenting bids for new events in Brussels, connect to the right providers, act to boost the number of attendees, partners and stakeholders, as well as inform on the activities existing within the Brussels associations ecosystem. We are also proud of our Ambassadors programme, which has just celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2021, and our annual conference, the European Association Summit, which will celebrate its tenth edition in 2022.

Personal recommendation/insider tips?

  • Brussels is a multicultural hub that has refined the art of connecting people and making all visitors feel welcome.
  • Enjoy the diversity of cultural events taking place every day. The number of exhibitions, concerts, debates is impressive and may satisfy every interest and audience.
  • Take the opportunity to taste the tradition and innovation present in hundreds of restaurants, taverns and street food places, as well as the newest food markets – the Wolf in a former bank and the Gare Maritime Food market, the biggest in Europe. And afterwards, take the opportunity to embrace the lively and renowned nightlife.
  • The city has kept its industry and craftsmen. Find some of them at the organic, local craftsmen and designers market at Atelier des Tanneurs or at Be-Here. If you are more fashion oriented look for the designers in the Dansaert area, and if you are more into beer and chocolate, then Brussels is the right spot for you.

Whom to contact?

For more information, contact visit.brussels – Convention & Association bureau

meetings@visit.brussels
www.visit.brussels/meetings
www.visit.brussels/associations

The visit.brussels team is here for you to give information on all kinds of visit to the city, find the right venue or service provider, support to a congress bid, and guide you to setup an international association office or welcome at various events dedicated to international associations in Brussels.