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New Ostend-Moscow flights launched to boost tourism
A regular air service between Ostend and Moscow began this week, operated by Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary Pobeda. It is hoped that the flights will boost Russian tourism to nearby Bruges and the rest of Flanders, as well as offering Flemings new holiday options.
This is Pobeda’s first route into Belgium, complementing the flights its parent company operates into Brussels Airport. The direct service between Ostend and Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport operates three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
“There was a clear need for new flight connections between Russia and our destination,” said Peter de Wilde, chief executive of VisitFlanders. “We are convinced that this new line will catch on with younger, travel-hungry Muscovites. With our gastronomy, beer culture and arts experiences, Flanders has everything in-house to attract Russian cultural tourists.”
Bruges is naturally the star attraction. “Russia is a growth market for Bruges, and we have been investing for several years to strengthen our image in Moscow and St Petersburg,” said Philip Pierins, city councillor for tourism. “The visitors we attract from Russia are exactly the kind we like to see: They have a great interest in our heritage, they return time and again to our museums, and they take the time to discover the real Bruges.”
Bart Tommelein, the mayor of Ostend, naturally hopes that new Russian tourists will not just hurry on to Bruges. “Our seaside city is the perfect tourist destination: Winter or summer, holidaymakers can combine their stay with our rich cultural history,” he said. “We’ve already noticed a lot of interest in our new James Ensor visitor centre from Russian culture journalists, and for business people we offer a range of beautiful locations for meeting packages or seminars.”
VisitFlanders is planning a broad publicity campaign during 2019 in connection with the new service.
Photo, from left: Bruges city councillor for tourism Philip Pierins, Ostend mayor Bart Tommelein, Ostend-Bruges Airport CEO Marcel Buelens and Pobeda general director Andrey Kalmykov during the launch of the new direct flights to Moscow ©Kurt Desplenter