Rising tourist numbers, importance of storytelling and authenticity, online fast-paced communication and the increasing importance of sustainability have been identified by ECEF as the most important trends for tourism in East-Flanders. To respond to these trends, ECEF has pinpointed quite some opportunities.
The common ground for gastronomy, craftsmanship and local producers will be the experiences that surround these assets. Local food products are a good example. Bringing tourists into contact with these products even more, particularly with the producers and the stories behind the products, offers a lot of added value. The key message? Come and taste East Flanders! The many craftspeople in the province offer similar potential. The story and tradition behind their crafts is impressive. With this in mind, craft workshops aim to offer tourists a more authentic experience.
In order to achieve all of this, a good public-private partnership is a must. Mutual cooperation between tourism providers is also necessary. That allows for the gap to be bridged between the tourism sector and other economic sectors.
On May 22nd 2019, the publication "Master crafts in East Flanders" was presented by ECEF. Crafts were placed in the spotlight, together with the craftsmen and women. They make products with a story that require craftmanship and craft skills, something that should not be lost. The publication brings inspiring stories and proves that crafts have a future. Futhermore, ECEF awarded new HIB labels. The HIB label is an authenticity label that stands for Handmade in Belgium. With this, ECEF wants to put the spotlight on authentic and traditional quality producers. The new label holders were honored during a network event for HIB label holders in Ghent. In June 2020, a collaboration will be set up with ‘Ministry of Makers’. They are an inspirer, matchmaker and sound board for the professional creative sector in East Flanders. The possibilities regarding a collaborative network and co-creation for craftsmen will be explored. In the fall of 2020 a ‘week of the market’ will be organised, to stimulate the local economy via markets in the heart of the village.
To cater for the gastronomy section, ‘Tasteful East-Flanders’ ambassadors will be honored. These are people from the hospitality industry that give regional products a leading place in their business. East-Flemish chefs will be engaged to support ECEF’s storytelling objectives. Furthermore, ECEF will enter into a structural cooperation with two hotel schools. Last but not least, a ‘Tasteful East-Flanders tour’ will be organised August 30th 2020. Each producer of East Flemish delicacies gives tourists a free tour of his company or his farm and explains how the production process works. Tourists can have a look behind the scenes and learn the story behind the product.