Promoting slow tourism in Wallonia

The project “Tastes of Trappists – a slow tourism experience” invites the SMEs to participate to several capacity-building workshops in Belgium, Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

On 2nd February 2015 Wallonia was at the centre of the EU project “TATRA – Tastes of Trappists”, with the conference “Promoting slow tourism in Walonia”. The event, dedicated to the enterprises and associations in the tourism sector, took place in the breath-taking scenery the Castle of Lavaux-Sainte-Anne in Rochefort.

The Belgian-Italian Chamber of Commerce is the coordinator of the European project “Tastes of Trappists – A slow tourism experience” (www.tatraproject.eu). The aim of the project is to promote the development of a sustainable tourism strategy in the areas around Trappist sites in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France, encouraging the economic development in these regions. Similar events had already been organized in Tilburg (Netherlands), Poperinge (Belgium), Mariawald (Germany).

In Wallonia, the area around the Trappist Abbey of Rochefort offers several touristic highlights, such as the Caves of Han and the Castle of Rochefort. It also has well preserved natural landscapes, with cycling and hiking routes. Therefore, the project will trigger the development of slow tourism, in a destination that already has all the necessary assets. Concretely, the project offers to the tourism related SMEs the possibility to be visible on the web-platform “Tastes of Abbeys”, and will provide to the visitors all the necessary information to undertake an authentic “slow tourism experience”.

Several stakeholders came to the workshop, in order to discover this innovative project. During the day, after an overview of the project, the participants had the possibility to learn more about the touristic offer of Val de Lesse: the director of the Maison du tourisme du Val de Lesse, Mr. Petit, presented the activities of tourism-promotion organized by this institution, focusing on the importance of taking advantage of the social networks and using digital interactive tools. The second speaker was Ms. Rebuffat, cofounder of GreenHopping, a web-platform about sustainable tourism destinations. Her presentation focused on the definition of sustainable tourism and on the description of the current trends in this sector. She presented her researches and explained what a tourist looks for in a “sustainable vacation”.

All these presentations gave many innovative inspirational to the participants and suggested new directions for the development of their business. After the conference, the participants had the possibility to network, while tasting local beer, cheese, ham and other snacks. This event, as the previous ones, resulted in a success for the implementation of the project.

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