Challenge, context & objectives
Belgium: A country with a damaged image and a damaged tourist industry...
By the end of 2016, after two years of terrorist attacks, Belgium's image was severely damaged, possibly beyond repair. The US President even called Brussels a "hell hole".
While global tourism grew +3.9% in 2016 and Western Europe declined a minimal -0.4%, Belgium's foreign arrivals plummeted -10.4% (8.354.753 in 2015 vs. 7.481.422 in 2016).
The 2017 outlook was negative. Official terrorism threat levels in Brussels remained at level 3 (highest = level 4) and soldiers continued to patrol streets. On existing trends, Belgium projected to lose another 789.837 foreign visitors in 2017. 45% of international travellers felt more sensitive than ever about possible terror attacks. Two-thirds said they only planned to travel to destinations they perceived as safe. This did not include Belgium. When potential visitors searched for Belgium on Google, four of the top five associated queries were linked to safety. We would need to overcome serious safety concerns by giving people positive reasons to visit.