In Europe
A group photo during the EU Dialogue event., a key player in a new vision of urban tourism

The importance of the Meetings Industry 

In the framework of the Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region (BCR) commissioned to organise an event highlighting the strategic importance of the meetings industry sector.

The official Presidency event, EU Dialogue: Driving positive change in the Meetings industry, was held on 17 April in Brussels and brought together 180 industry professionals from 15 different member states as well as European policy makers.

The aim of the event was to create and promote an open dialogue between the main players in the industry and representatives of the European institutions: the European Commission and the European Parliament.

The conference highlighted the often overlooked but significant contribution of the visitor economy to European economic growth. Participants at the event were able to take part in in-depth discussions on a range of impactful topics including the industry’s sustainability and mobility initiatives, the impact of EU trade policies on the sector and the challenges of digital transformation and employment.

Following the event, and its partners JMIC (Joint Meetings Industry Council), CityDNA (City Destination Alliance) and EEIA (European Exhibition Industry Alliance) published “The Meetings Industry Manifesto: Priorities for the next EU Leadership“. The Manifesto presents the results of the event and details the 6 priority areas in which the meetings industry wishes to work together with the European Union:

  • The added value of the meetings industry to the visitor economy
  • The Tourism Transition Pathway
  • Statistical representativeness of the sector
  • Sustainability and mobility
  • Innovation and competitiveness
  • EU trade and visa policies.

The Manifesto is a real call from the Meetings Industry to the European Union to work together based on the following four axis: develop dialogue and new exchange mechanisms, recognise the global role of the sector as a strategic asset for Europe, promote the development of the sector and, finally, use Meetings industry as a research and development tool to ensure European competitiveness and prosperity.


Brussels’ major events open up Europe

During the presidency, organised two flagship events in Brussels in collaborations with other member states to support their programming: Bright Festival and Brussels Pride. Both events were part of the official cultural programme of the presidency.

Rainbow-coloured light bulbs illuminate a statue.
“Portal” by Alfredo Barsuglia, one of the works shown at the Bright Festival. The artist uses everyday coloured light bulbs to show you the way. With the support of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Brussels. ©

During the Bright Festival of lights in February, half a million visitors were able to discover works inspired by the theme of Europe, as well as works from eleven partner member countries: Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Italy, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

Bright Festival was also the where the first Bright Sessions were launched – a one-day international conference bringing together artists and professionals from the sector to discuss the creation of light, sustainability and the organisation of large-scale lighting events.

In May, 200,000 people took part in the Brussels Pride “Safe Everyday Everywhere”. During the Pride March, Brussels had the pleasure of welcoming the organisers of the Europride in Thessaloniki, as well as several European delegations present alongside the Europride float.

People celebrate Pride outside the Bourse
DJs and artists performed during Brussels Pride in front of a jubilant crowd in the centre of the city at the Bourse. ©

Initiatives for the public  

The Belgian presidency of the European Union was also an important moment for strengthening the image of the BCR among a wide range of audiences: international visitors to Brussels during the presidency, conference organisers and young people.


International audiences… 

By organising a call for projects, commissioned by the regional government, for professional event organisers, has enabled 12 international conferences to be held in Brussels, supporting them by providing various mobility solutions, carbon footprint calculations and promoting Brussels gastronomy at their events.

The BCR has also succeeded in strengthening its image with international visitors to Brussels through its new city marketing campaign. The “Real Secrets, Real Brussels” campaign highlighted the values of Brussels: authenticity, accessibility and optimism, with the campaign being displayed in targeted districts and events, as well as with murals by Brussels artists on the themes of sustainability, diversity, the Brussels art of living and non-conformism.

A mural depicting a woman with a hat full of blue and yellow objects.
Mural painted by Farm Prod, a Brussels-based artists’ collective, in the Rue de la Station in Forest. ©

In addition to developing the city marketing campaign, also strengthened the brand image of the European Quarter by increasing the presence of the new European Quarter Brussels brand in public spaces and creating a dedicated “still alive after 5” campaign.


… and local audiences 

Finally, throughout the presidency, the Europe Direct network was active both on social networks and in the field. Throughout the presidency a roadshow was organised in places in Brussels frequented by young people. The aim was to inform the target audience in a qualitative way about the impact of the European Union on their lives through games and competitions.