The Tourism Limburg organisation has succeeded in landing the ‘EuroVelo & Cycle Tourism Conference’ 2018, the number one international cycling conference for professionals in the tourism sector. The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) selected the Flemish province from ten different European candidates to be the host for the fourth event. Both parties ratified their collaboration with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at ECF’s headquarters in Brussels.
European cycling tourism congress
Every two years since 2012, ECF has organised the EuroVelo & Cycle Tourism Conference, a prominent European cycling tourism congress. EuroVelo is the network of long-distance cycle routes, aiming to connect all European countries. The EuroVelo conference aims to gather professionals from the tourism and cycle tourism sectors from around the world to discuss this growing market that employs over 600,000 Europeans and generates an economic impact of over EUR 44 billion every year for the European economy. The congress has previously been held in Nantes (2012), Basle (2014) and Vienna (2016). Early this year, ECF went on the hunt for a new city or region to host the fourth edition this autumn.
Bernhard Ernsink, (Secretary General ECF): “We are delighted to be bringing this year’s EuroVelo & Cycle Tourism Conference to Limburg. We hope to use the occasion to showcase some of the innovative techniques that have been used to develop cycle tourism in the region, including ‘junctions’ – the famous cycle node system.”
Igor Philtjens, regional Minister for Tourism and President of the Tourism Limburg organisation: “It’s not only a substantial boost for Limburg’s international image to get the chance to organise this congress, it’s also a strong impetus for the Limburg leisure economy and business tourism in our province.”
Ten European candidates
The Tourism Limburg organisation put itself forward as a candidate to secure the congress for Limburg via the BLCB – an initiative under the umbrella of Tourism Limburg, which promotes and supports business tourism in the province.
This meant competing with nine other European candidates. Based on a comprehensive bid book, featuring all the cycle knowledge and skills that the region possesses, the ECF finally selected a top three. An ECF delegation then subjected these to a thorough, on-location inspection visit.
Limburg finally emerged as the winning region. Primarily, it was a decision based on the knowledge and expertise available concerning cycle tourism. “Cycle tourism is, and will remain, our ‘core business’. Over 20 years ago, ‘cycling from junction to junction ’ was invented in Limburg. Today – with projects such as Cycling Through the Water – we are investing in another experience layer on top of the existing cycle route network in order to stay in front,” says Igor Philtjens. “With this congress we are stretching far beyond our national boundaries to put Limburg on the map as a pre-eminent cycling destination. So this once again confirms our status as Cycling Paradise.”
Return on investment for Limburg
The three previous times the congress was held, more than 340 delegates attended from more than 38 different countries. This year, the congress is expecting 150 to 200 participants.
First and foremost, this means a strong boost for the Limburg leisure economy. Igor Philtjens explains: “As an estimate, assume that a congress visitor spends an average of EUR 240 a day. And with over 150 participants expected, who will stay for several days in and around Hasselt – so eating, drinking and accommodation – this congress means a substantial boost for local hotel and catering businesses. This is why we, as Tourism Limburg organisation, are happy to invest in congresses like this one.”
Besides this, Limburg will also benefit from the international knowledge interchange that has brought the congress into being and the congress additionally increases the presence of the province on a European level.
Radisson Blu as beating heart
The EuroVelo & Cycle Tourism Conference 2018 will take place on 26-27-28 September. The central theme is ‘The Cycling Tourism Experience’ and the Radisson Blu Hotel in Hasselt is the beating heart of the congress events.
The three-day congress will finish with various Side & Social Events. For example, trips to Cycling Through the Water and the International Meuse cycle route (presently a EuroVelo route candidate), a visit to Bike Valley, cycling on the Zolder Circuit etc.
“In this way, new international target groups can get to know Limburg. We also hope that they will come back as guests, together with friends or family, to discover more of our beautiful province,” concludes Igor Philtjens.