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Tourism: An evolving strategy with parallel goals

T ourism minister Lex Delles (DP) : “T ourism markets are defined based on specific target groups ” Guy Wolff/Maison Moderne

T ourism minister Lex Delles (DP) : “T ourism markets are defined based on specific target groups ” Guy Wolff/Maison Moderne

Plans are underway for the 11th five-year programme (2023-2027) for tourism infrastructure. Tourism minister Lex Delles lays emphasis on nature and heritage tourism with a focus on specific target groups rather than countries.

Earlier this year, a call for projects was launched to identify potential tourism projects for the 2023 to 2027 period. “We’re going through the projects now and we will write the law in the next months. It will be submitted to parliament next year and voted on in 2022,” tourism minister Lex Delles discloses.

In terms of project highlights so far, he recalls the tourism budget, which has been on an upward trend in the past years, has supported regional tourism offices, the Luxembourg Convention Bureau (LCB), and the digitalisation agenda via the new VisitLuxembourg app. In addition, the recently concluded tourism awards aim to incentivise more entrepreneurship by private players. “We had nice projects that participated and won,” he recalls.

Looking ahead, hiking and biking projects will play a significant role in the next five years. “Especially biking, because we’re not only a hiking destination, but also a biking destination and we can combine these in interesting ways,” the minister underlined.

Also, he notes the defining role remembrance tourism will play. “There are a lot of things you don’t think about, but they are part of remembrance tourism, and we’ve defined what this means,” he clarifies. For example, the world wars, Luxem­bourg’s industrial heritage and the construction of the European Union. The return into service on the Moselle of the MS Princesse Marie-Astrid ship, on which the Schengen agreement was signed, demonstrates the commitment of the ministry that fully subsidised this project.

Sustaining the “staycation” trend

Besides the short and mid-term benefits of the €50 vouchers, the minister clarifies the long-term goal is to encourage more people to go back to the places they visited. “Tourist attractions do not remain the same. Every child in Luxembourg has probably been to the Vianden castle. But the Vianden castle I used to know when I was a child, about 25 years ago, has totally changed. The building did not change, but you see it differently as you age,” he explains.

To maintain the growth of local tourism observed during the €50 voucher era, changing the perception of residents towards local tourism will be critical. “Campaigns like ‘Lëtzebuerg dat ass Vakanz’ are a good example that shows what Luxembourg can offer,” Delles says. “When you go to the Moselle region, it’s very different. When you go to the southern part, it’s something very special,” he explains. According to a Statec survey, about 43% of respondents did not think they’d repeat the staycation adventure. “As inhabitants, it is easy to forget Luxembourg has so much to offer, like the different landscapes you can find here in half an hour by train, bus or car,” he adds.

Future projects include the upgrade of Luxexpo The Box and boosting hotel capacity in rural areas. “We have investors asking to build hotels, and we have to engage with them,” he reveals.

Attracting specific markets

Luxembourg’s neighbours represent the biggest share for tourism, but the minister explains that in the last two to three years, tourism markets are defined based on specific target groups, rather than from a geographical standpoint. “Now we go for markets of people looking for something in Luxembourg. Nature lovers will love the north of the country, the south, or even the wider region.”

This article was originally published in the January 2022 Delano print edition.