Brussels, Belgium, 15 April 2014 – The first field visit of the Security & Tourism project took place in Brussels on 14 and 15 April 2014. In the presence of a delegation from the city of Rome (Italy) and of Efus, the speakers from Brussels presented the local security issues linked to tourism, and how Brussels tackles them.
This visit was one of several planned in each of the partner cities of the Security & Tourism project. The objectives of these visits are to:
– allow the host city to present its activities in the area of security and tourism, its achievements and needs;
– support the audit process carried by the city as part of the project, and bring views from external experts at various levels;
– allow the exchange of practices between two cities on themes related to the local security and tourism policy;
– open a discussion on one or several themes identified through the project, with a view to writing the guidelines for a policy on security and tourism.
During the visit in Brussels, participants had fruitful discussions. The main themes were:
- pickpocketing, with the example of the “Trekkers” unit of the Brussels-Ixelles Police Zone (knowledge on the phenomena, prevention and repression), and a presentation of the information documents of the “Safe in the City” campaign;
- The specific actions carried in the UNESCO zone of Brussels, which is classified World Heritage, in partnership with the city, the police and the private sector, including cafes and restaurants. Some examples of these actions are the fact that there is a “Mr UNESCO” in charge of coordinating all the initiatives taken in this area of the city regarding trade, urban development and tourism; the Hersham unit for homeless people; the victim support office; the position of Manager of Public Peace.
- Actions carried by the private sector for security such as the “quality barometer” and the “how to” manual for hotel managers, which was produced in cooperation with the police;
- The audit that is currently being led by the Asbl BRAVVO (which manages crime prevention in Brussels) as part of the S&T project.
“Encouraging tourists to come back”
The commitment of the city of Brussels regarding the security aspects of its tourism policy was emphasised during the meeting by Philippe Close, municipal councillor in charge of tourism. “This is a key sector for the economy of the city and the whole region,” he said. “The response to security problems affecting tourists must be swift and of good quality. We have two objectives: to encourage tourists to come back, and to make sure that they speak positively about Brussels.”
The delegates from the city of Rome found the field visit very informative. Visenta Iannicelli, head of the Tourism department of the city of Rome, said that, “Rome and Brussels are both capital cities, and this makes it more complex to manage urban reality. The presentation of the urban reality and of tourism in Brussels allowed us to establish comparisons. We obtained very useful information that we will certainly use in Rome, such as the information documents on security problems that are distributed to tourists, which are illustrated by concrete simulations based on years of experience.”