From Sunday 31 October to Tuesday 2 November 2021, Bruges was the host city for the 6th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism. A three-day world congress on gastronomy and tourism organised every year by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in collaboration with the Basque Culinary Center (BCC). The City of Bruges and EventFlanders made strenuous efforts to bring the forum to Bruges this year, the perfect opportunity for Flanders and Bruges in particular to show the world that Bruges is the ideal location for conferences and meetings and by extension, has a lot to offer gastronomically.
The 6th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in Bruges was a success! 180 participants from more than 20 different countries attended the many interesting panel discussions and presentations live at the Concertgebouw Brugge (Concert Hall) Presentations were given by a wide range of experts in the field: from renowned chefs from Slovenia and Sierra Leone to managers of tourist organisations from Austria and the Netherlands. Flanders was also featured with keynote sessions from Peter De Wilde and Hendrik Dierendonck and master classes with Caroline Baerten (Soilmates), Stefaan Gheysen (Westtoer) and Filip Claeys (North Sea Chefs). All that while more than 1,600 other guests, spread across the world in more than 123 countries, could follow everything online. It was the first time ever that this UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism took place in a hybrid form, with a live and online crossover.
The international delegations also had the opportunity to go on a culinary journey in and around Bruges or via online videos. Many Flemish chefs and producers opened their doors to show and taste their culinary skills on the basis of various culinary themes. This year, the theme of the congress was "Gastronomy Tourism: Promoting Rural Tourism and Regional Development". With this, the forum focused on the great potential of gastronomy tourism for contributing towards the strengthening of the local community, the preservation of culinary traditions and the development of rural areas.
The top culinary conference was officially opened in De Karmeliet with a Welcome Dinner on Sunday 31 October and festively closed in the Brewery 'De Halve Maan' on Tuesday evening 2 November with Bruges Unplugged: a pleasant and tasteful closing show with Flemish and Bruges guests talking about local products and talent development within the gastronomy and tourism sector.
In 2022, the 7th edition of the UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism will take place in Nara, Japan.
Tourism is one of the growth sectors for Bruges, along with healthcare, the port, ICT and Mechatronics. Gastronomy tourism therefore fits in very well with the DNA of Bruges. That's what Visit Bruges is all about. Also from the point of view of conference tourism, this conference was facilitated by the dedicated team of the Visit Bruges Convention Bureau.