Two months after Brussels was hit by a terror alert, local officials are asking locals to reassure potential foreign visitors that it is safe to return.
Bookings plummeted by some 20 percent in December, compared to the same month in 2014.
“We have exceeded 2 000 calls in more than a day of our initiative,” said Patrick Bontinck of Visit Brussels. “We got calls from all around the world. We got more than 300 phone calls from the USA, we got calls from China, from Thailand.”
Anyone with access to the internet can call one of three special phones located across the city.
And anyone can pick up to give the caller the latest update from the Belgian capital.
“It’s our town, we’re feeling good in it. Speaking for myself, frankly since the attacks I have no trouble coming to Brussels. So reassuring tourists who hesitate to come to Brussels I think
“I think it’s a really good idea and I think it encourages people to come to Brussels because I know that a lot of people are worried because of the whole terrorism attacks but I came to visit my friend this week-end here in Brussels and I felt safe the entire time and I’ve really enjoyed it,” A female British tourist told euronews.
One of the phone boxes has been placed in the notorious neighbourhood of Molenbeek, where some of the Paris attackers once lived.
“She wanted to get some information about Molenbeek so I provided her with some news and I reassured her saying that Molenbeek is not a ghetto at all,” explained a local policewoman who was on duty when the phone rang.
The security clampdown cost the local economy some 350 million euros.
Officials hope this campaign will at least go some way to restoring the city’s image worldwide.