Creative Tourism Development in the Ardennes: Working Across Belgium, France & Luxemburg

by Elena

Work & pleasure do not mix. Or do they? I actually find they almost always do: Perhaps this happens when you do the right thing. Having arrived in the Ardennes Luxembourgeoises, where my creative & committed friend Laurie Buchet is working as tourism development project manager, we always mix friendship & hard work. We like to think of how we can improve communication and perception of destinations, what strategies are there to enhance tourism in her area, which resources are available for cooperation etc. besides exploring the local area and enjoying great food, drinks & chatting together, naturally ;).

“Laurie, let’s go to the Creative Tourism Network Conference in Paris”, I said to her last year in December 2012. “I am sure you will receive a lot of inspiration and support there.” Next time we meet, she hands me a brochures: “Les Ardennes Créatives”. Wow. I want to experience creative travel here. Now! Well done my friend.

Laurie and I, enjoying a great catch-up over good food near the city of Luxemburg.

Laurie and I, enjoying a great catch-up over good food near the city of Luxemburg.

The Creative Tourism Network in Luxemburg brings together several actors from various fields, such as photography, cooking, felting, wood-turning, etc.

The Creative Tourism Network in Luxemburg brings together several actors from various fields, such as photography, cooking, felting, wood-turning, etc.

Be sure to order your (bilingual) brochure about Creative Ardennes through www.ardennes-lux.lu/creativeardennes and choose from a great selection of unique cultural activities on offer.

Be sure to order your (bilingual) brochure about Creative Ardennes through www.ardennes-lux.lu/creativeardennes and choose from a great selection of unique cultural activities on offer.

 

From Inspiration to Action: The Case of the Creative Ardennes

Working as project manager for the Creative Tourism Network in Austria myself, I know of the pitfalls and challenges of developing and maintaining a network association in creative cultural tourism. On the other hand, it is just such an interesting and rewarding work !! Here in the Luxemburg Ardennes, Laurie Buchet has managed to secure funding for gathering some twenty institutions, business partners and artists to establish the “Creative Ardennes”, produce a brochure, launch some first communication efforts and continue networking. With the likes of myself, for instance (as friends, I guess we do it naturally anyway 😉 ). And with another, quite “potent” regional development association: The Ardennes, stretching across France, Luxemburg & Belgium and bringing together several stakeholders all sharing one mission – establishing the “Ardennes” as a well-known, international destination within Europe. And the way I see it, I am set to help with this now, too. Exciting !!

The Ardennes stretch from across Luxembourg, to Belgium and into France.

The Ardennes stretch from across Luxembourg, to Belgium and into France.

On my first day of travelling here, I am drawn into the beauty of the season: Springtime in Saint Hubert, Belgium Ardennes.

On my first day of travelling here, I am drawn into the beauty of the season: Springtime in Saint Hubert, Belgium Ardennes.

Back in the office, I am introduced to the brand values of the Ardennes as a European destination renowned for nature, culture and authenticity.

Back in the office, I am introduced to the brand values of the Ardennes as a European destination renowned for nature, culture and authenticity.

 

Building the Brand: The Ardennes in Belgium, France & Luxemburg

On Friday 24 May, 2013, Laurie sits me in her beautiful car and drives me all across Luxemburg (the country being small as it is, this is the impression I get anyway!) and next doors into Belgium to the “European Capital City of Hunting”, a village called Saint Hubert. “It is the most central meeting point for our international development committee in the Ardennes.” Fair enough: The little town is quite pretty and the “Frites & Fricadelles” local food during lunch break are just awesome!

Here, I meet with Pascal, Marie, Fred and the rest of the Ardennes development committee. They talk fast, they talk French, they talk business. All my international years and language studies are finally paying off: By the late afternoon, I am giving a short and rather spontaneous presentation about my own work, in French – the only “lingua franca” here, haha ;). I really enjoy the common vision shared by the team about developing and establishing the Ardennes as a (creative) European destination. Hopefully, this will see me returning to “Les Ardennes” fairly soon!

Lunchtime meeting with international project partners from around France, Belgium, Luxemburg and – Austria!

Lunchtime meeting with international project partners from around France, Belgium, Luxemburg and – Austria!

We are always so lucky with the local food … Yum!

We are always so lucky with the local food … Yum!

Back to work: In the building of the local tourist office, we gather and discuss everything from brand awareness, to Social Media campaigns and tourism development in the area of the Ardennes.

Back to work: In the building of the local tourist office, we gather and discuss everything from brand awareness, to Social Media campaigns and tourism development in the area of the Ardennes.

As part of the PR strategy, I am shown articles that have already portrayed the Ardennes as an internationally renowned destination for hiking, trekking and nature experiences.

As part of the PR strategy, I am shown articles that have already portrayed the Ardennes as an internationally renowned destination for hiking, trekking and nature experiences.

 

International Travel Experiences: Bringing Travel Bloggers to the Ardennes

Last but not least, we discuss, share and elaborate several strategies of how the destination of the Ardennes is able to further its reputation as a hiking, nature & creative cultural destination in Europe building on the values of its brand: “Etonner – Enchanter”, stunning & enchanting in terms of wellbeing, authenticity, imagination and the “living as a local” philosophy of travelling: Getting “behind the scenes” and meeting the real Ardennes people. I eagerly spun off results from the recent Rotterdam International Travel Bloggers Unite Conference and I guess we are in, as travel bloggers: Have a look at and enjoy the following destination video which already gives quite an authentic and refreshing insight into the Ardennes. Would YOU want to travel here?

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2 comment

Cathy Lara 20 February 2014 - 22:21

I’d love to visit Luxemburg and the Ardennes. Thanks for posting the video and the great photos!

Reply
Elena 21 February 2014 - 10:56

Dear Cathy,

Thank you very much for your comment! I will go back to Luxemburg and the Ardennes later this year, perhaps even as part of a larger creative event & festival during the month of July!

Hope you will still find my articles inspiring.

Best, Elena

Reply

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