The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Basque Culinary Center (BCC), EventFlanders and the City of Bruges have decided to move the 6th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism to this autumn, from 31 October to 2 November 2021. For the first time in its history, the forum will also take in a hybrid format, whereby participants will be able to attend both online and ‘live’ in the Concertgebouw Brugge (Concert Hall). As a result of this decision, the organisers hope to welcome more people than is possible in the current situation to the host city of Bruges and also allow as many people as possible to enjoy Flemish gastronomy and its tourism gems.
With the central theme ‘Gastronomy Tourism: Promoting Rural and Regional Development’, the event will focus on the huge potential of gastronomy tourism with respect to job creation, regional cohesion and sustainable growth. “This is certainly an interesting topic for Bruges itself and all local, gastronomic partners,” explains Bruges’ Alderman for Work and Entrepreneurship Pablo Annys.
Building upon the mission of the UNWTO to encourage innovation in the tourism sector, the forum offers experts in gastronomic tourism a unique opportunity to inspire one another and ensure the two sectors are assigned a central role in the recovery plan with respect to the social and economic consequences of the COVID-19-pandemic.
“In light of global developments regarding coronavirus, the postponement of the UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism is the only appropriate decision,” says Flemish Minister for Tourism Zuhal Demir. “Public health and supporting the tourism and gastronomy sectors are our priorities, so that we can come back stronger than ever and ensure the spotlight falls, once again, on Flemish gastronomy at the beginning of November.”
“The motto of the UNWTO ‘Stay home today, so we can travel tomorrow’ is becoming a reality. Postponed by the COVID-19-pandemic but not lost,” adds Bruges’ Alderman for Tourism Philip Pierins. “The fact that tourism is an exceptionally flexible sector has been proven once again. Furthermore, we now have the chance to develop a hybrid format and demonstrate Bruges’ particular talents when it comes to digitalisation.”
Mayor Dirk De fauw adds: “Participants in the conference will come from all corners of the globe. We are hoping for around 150 attendees in Bruges. The other guests will be able to participate online. This allows us to reach out to an even bigger group. We will also ensure that we showcase the best bits of Bruges. Then, hopefully, they will be able to come to Bruges with their families at a later date. We will also strengthen our robust, international reputation as the perfect meeting and conference destination.”
The UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism is organised each year by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC). Bruges is hosting the event in 2021. The UNWTO Forum is coming to Flanders as the result of an initiative by EventFlanders. EventFlanders was founded in 2016. It is a specialised unit designed to take Flemish events to a higher (international) level and hunt out other international event opportunities. EventFlanders works under the wings of VisitFlanders, but is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Culture, Youth and Media and Sport Flanders.