One cannot simply say “no” to Brussels. Think about the rivers of chocolate, endless bottles of aromatic beers, crispy frites which claim to be better than the “French fries” and mouth watering waffles it has to offer. The impressive flux of 3,4 million visitors in 2014 (source: visitbrussels) was, however, dramatically affected in the late of November 2015, when Brussels was under a potential terrorist attack similar to the one in Paris, which registered more than 130 deaths and 380 injured people (source: Paris attack 2015).
In an attempt to protect the citizens and the sojourners trying to have a glimpse at the charms of the city, Brussels raised the alert level to 4 and enforced the police presence on the streets of the city. In a matter of hours, the European city was labelled as “locked-down” and the Internet was full of tweets supporting or criticising the situation by using the “brusselslockdown” hashtag and pictures of their feline companions:
source: Belgians tweet cat pictures
Whereas the situation has been effectively handled without harms (or reaching the purpose of capturing the suspects), the situation in Brussels was far from coming back to normal in a couple of days. The instinct of survival has automatically intensified within tourists who cancelled their trip to Brussels not only on the short-term, but on the long-term as well, resulting in local hotels and tour operators receiving cancellation requests for their service even 2-3 months in advance. This came as a punch to the tourism sector and cost Brussels thousands of visitors, thus thousands of chocolates on the shelves and multitude of frozen fries waiting for hungry bellies that ceased to appear. At least we know the beer can survive for centuries.
Ever since, Brussels tried to overcome the status of a city “in danger” and the fear of foreigners asking the frequent question “is Brussels safe?”. By far, the most effective campaign is “Call Brussels” which involves public phones connecting people in Brussels and the rest of the world. The result? Frank and live updates on the situation of Brussels:
The campaign enjoyed more than 12,688 calls on the first 5 days of the initiative meant to reassure travellers around the world that Brussels is safe again. Calls from around 154 countries reached Brussels in an atempt to get up-to-date with the current situation and more than 9 million impressions were created on social media. And as locals replied “hop on a plane and get to Brussels”/ “We have waffles..and you can’t say no to waffles”, Brussels might become again a ant nest in the near future. Safety above all might not be a good motto when trying to discover the world, so why not replace it “seize the moment?”
Local tour providers are definitely waiting for you with more excitement than ever, and they will make sure you’ll enjoy the trip in a “terror-free” Brussels of chocolate, beer and waffles.
When in doubt, always go for guided tours: