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Bruges to host UN’s World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism
This June, both the gastronomy and tourism industries will descend on Bruges for the sixth World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which hosts the event, is an agency of the United Nations.
UNWTO hosts the global event together with the Basque Culinary Centre alternately in San Sebastian and another host country. This year’s theme is promoting rural tourism and regional development.
Bruges is “a beautiful city with an amazing history, but also an outstanding culinary destination,” said UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili. “As we celebrate the Year of Tourism and Rural Development, we are looking forward to meeting partners from all over the world in Bruges.”
The annual conference attracts tourism ministers, chefs, entrepreneurs, producers, academia and related stakeholders from both the tourism and gastronomy sectors. Event Flanders and the City of Bruges were instrumental in bringing the four-day conference to the city’s Concertgebouw.
“We want to show the world that this city offers countless eating opportunities,” said Flemish tourism minister Zuhal Demir. “Nowhere else in the world do you find so many Michelin stars in such a limited area, and nowhere in the world is the difference between haute cuisine and ‘ordinary’ gastronomy so negligible. We need to be more aware of that, and we have to make sure that the whole world knows it too.”
Some 500 delegates are expected to attend the conference, which takes place from 1-4 June. “We expect to exchange experiences and ideas about gastronomic tourism and find out how it can help preserve and promote local culture,” said Pololikashvili, “as well as how it can act as a catalyst for job creation and sustainable growth.”
To that end, the conference is expected to make an impact on the local sector. “Local companies and hotel and catering schools will have the opportunity to exchange experiences with stakeholders from the gastronomy sector from all over the world,” said chef Gert De Mangeleer of Bruges eatery L.E.S.S. “The sector will undoubtedly benefit from this.”
Photo: Michaël Dehaspe/VisitFlanders