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Image-building campaigns sprout in Belgium

#pyjamasnights, #sprouttobebrussels, #proudbelgians, #diningforbrussels, #shareoursmile. On social media and ‘in real life’, these campaigns are intended to restore confidence at home and rebuild the country’s image abroad – often with a touch of Belgian whimsy.

By checking into your hotel in your sleepwear, snapping a picture of your empty plate at your favorite restaurant or spotting the sprout logo around town, you are helping life in Brussels – and Belgium as a whole – get back to normal after the terrorist attacks. As these initiatives gain traction, they are sure to spur social media actions and hopefully boost business as well.

It’s no secret: business in Belgium has had its fair share of challenges in recent months. Since the beginning of this year, AmCham Belgium and other foreign Chambers of Commerce have been working to re-affirm the commitment of the international business community to Belgium as a place to live and work with our open letter and #Yes2Belgium campaign.

While the negative portrayal of Belgium in some international media may potentially have an influence on foreign investors, the immediate impact is being felt by the tourism and horeca (hotels, restaurants, catering) sectors. Private and public efforts to showcase Belgium’s strengths are more relevant than ever. Sharing our #Yes2Belgium commitment, these campaigns endorse a common, confident and forward-looking message.

  • Dining for Brussels has whet our appetite by encouraging Brussels to enjoy its restaurants. This initiative, launched by De Tijd and L’Echo, aims to support the ailing horeca sector.
  • Proud Belgians was launched by three digital agencies to encourage Belgian citizens to become ambassadors of their country by sharing positive stories of Belgium on social media.
  • Pyjamas Nights emboldened hotel guests to wear their nightwear at their hotel check-in. Those who played along received 50% off their reservation.
  • Share Our Smile is a new campaign from Tourism Flanders to attract tourists back to the region. It’s not only Brussels which is suffering from the downturn.
  • Sprout to Be Brussels is a bottom-up campaign involving citizens and businesses to restore the image of Brussels. Today, Brussels Airlines, the Rossel media group, the Brussels Hotel Association, the Brussels Chamber of Commerce (BECI), and ING have all joined the movement, along with more than 10,000 fans on Facebook.

A positive momentum is being built and is helping to get the ball rolling again. Visits to museums and amusements parks are already picking back up. At times, seeing the glass half-full is all there is needed to restore confidence. Unity of purpose among civil society, business and political leaders sends a strong signal to the outside world. AmCham Belgium will continue to support these image-building efforts through our #Yes2Belgium campaign.