Tree of Hope for European travel springs up in Brussels

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Tree of Hope for European travel springs up in Brussels

‘We are travellers in this world, not residents.’ — Erasmus (1466-1536)

Belgium, like many European countries, has had its borders closed for a while, but from 15 June they will be mostly re-opening.

To signify the country’s European travel ambitions, a Tree of Hope has been planted on the Mont des Arts in Brussels by the Flemish Minister for Tourism, Zuhal Demir. The tree is intended to signify a message of hope, support and solidarity with the European tourist sector.

The Minister describes Belgium as the beating heart of Europe, and said, explaining his idea of the tree planting symbol: “It is important to plant a tree at this centre. Its roots symbolise our shared history and the branches stand for the growth that can only be achieved through exchange and co-operation. One of the ways to do this is through travel. Fortunately Belgians have regained their appetite for exploring the world. Ribbons tied onto it will symbolise the intentions of our countrymen to travel to European destinations.” Each ribbon symbolises the intention of 10,000 Belgians to travel.

A survey by tourism board VisitFlanders to assess the travel intentions of the Belgian population both pre- and post-Covid-19 has shown, however, that fewer Belgians intend to travel abroad now. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, 80% of Belgians intended to travel abroad this summer as opposed to 54% today.

One in two Belgians who do indicate they’re going abroad this summer, have already picked their destination and their top six are, according to the survey:

  1. France 25% (116 ribbons/1,157,000 Belgians)
  2. The Netherlands 14% (64 ribbons/638,000 Belgians)
  3. Spain 11% (52 ribbons/519,000 Belgians)
  4. Italy 8% (37 ribbons/372,000 Belgians)
  5. Germany 5% (21 ribbons/213,000 Belgians)
  6. United Kingdom 4% (19 ribbons/186,000 Belgians)

The Dutch philosopher and Christian scholar Erasmus wrote: ‘We are travellers in this world, not residents’, pointed out VisitFlanders CEO Peter De Wilde, adding: “Perhaps we should take a step further this summer. Instead of travelling in this world we all share a place. Leading to a concept of tourism, from which we all benefit.”

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