The Belgium government announced last days that it would provide all residents with a free 10-journey rail pass as it emerges from three months of lockdown. Valid from July until the end of December, the rail pass can be used anywhere in the country and is part of a package of measures to boost domestic tourism and stimulate the economy. Other steps include a € 300 (US $ 337) voucher that residents can use in restaurants, museums and theaters, as well as an extension of parental leave, according to the Brussels Times.
The relaunch plan also includes funding to equip tourist, cultural and heritage attractions with hygiene equipment and distancing signs; funding for the provision of contactless services and other digital presentation services; and funding to help events in the region equip themselves with hygiene, accounting, protection and security equipment. As part of the latter effort, the price of the Brussels Card 48h will be reduced, to entice visitors to make use of the various tourism services included in the price of the card, which currently stands at € 36 for the 48-hour version with no public transport option (€ 50 with public transport).
The card, which also exists in 24-hour and 72-hour versions, offers free entry to 39 museums and other attractions; discounts at some shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs; and a guidebook.
The second phase will include measures to equip tourism operators with digital technology and measures to support conferences and meetings of more than 200 participants with overnight stays.
“Our vast tourism and cultural sector, which has grown in recent years to nearly 60,000 employees and 7,000 self-employed workers, deserves to be supported,” said Sven Gatz (Open VLD), Brussels minister for budget, finance and the image of Brussels. .
“Tourism, events and culture are sectors of vital importance to our region,” commented Minister-President Rudi Vervoort (PS). “Tourism operators, who provide a large number of direct and indirect jobs, and who contribute greatly to the international image of Brussels, have been plunged into crisis. The economic distress they find themselves in requires an ambitious recovery plan that can support and inform those affected, and can reassure and attract visitors from inside Brussels, as well as the rest of Belgium and abroad. ”
Belgium’s package to encourage domestic tourism is similar to incentives being introduced in other countries. Japan, for example, is considering partly funding domestic trips through its Go To Travel campaign and New Zealand has proposed a four-day work week to give residents additional holiday time. Switzerland has also proposed providing residents with vouchers worth 200CHF (US $ 210) to be spent in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
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