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‘Cancellation of Winter Wonders will cost economy €100 million’
The Brussels economy stands to lose more than €100 million because of the cancellation of Winter Wonders, according to Brussels-City councillor Fabian Maingain (Défi). Earlier this week, the city council made the decision to cancel the five-week Christmas market.
Winter Wonders features more than 200 stalls with food and gifts, an ice skating rink, fun fair rides, light shows, parades and a high-tech dome featuring audio-visual performances, films and concerts. Winter Pop sees smaller versions of all this sprouting up in other neighbourhoods in the capital.
Last year, the event attracted 3.4 million people, of whom one-third were from abroad. “The cancellation of Winter Wonders means a loss to the local economy of at least €100 million,” said Maingain, the city councillor in charge of economic affairs. “Think of the hotel stays, the merchants and the restaurants and bars.”
Tough year for fair operators
The councillor is working on plans to support the retail industry once shops are allowed to re-open. “We have ideas to give Christmas shopping a boost, but it all depends on the coronavirus measures,” he told Bruzz. “We’re considering more consumer cheques, for instance.”
The Brussels association that represents fun fair operators, however, feels left out in the cold. Having seen the big summer season go up in smoke, operators of fun fair food caravans, games and rides are now facing the cancellation of all the winter celebrations. The federal government has announced that all Christmas markets will be cancelled.
“It’s a financial catastrophe,” said the chair of the association, Patrick De Corte. “In Flanders, operators received €19,000 in support, and in Wallonia €8,500. In Brussels, we’ve each received €4,000. When events start up again, authorities should consider lowering the fees we have to pay and the VAT taxes.”
Photo courtesy Winter Wonders