Bart Tommelein, Mayor of Ostend

Posted on Posted in In de pers

Ostend is the only city by the Belgian seaside. Our shops don’t just appeal to visitors from neighbouring towns and municipalities— second-home owners also come here to shop on weekends. Economically speaking, tourism is the driving force behind our city. We attract overnighters and day-trippers to Ostend with numerous events. Cleverly targeted marketing campaigns help us put Ostend on the map. The cooperation between the Ostend tourist office and central management, who organized innovative shopping events together, is also a cornerstone.”

“The centre of Ostend is in a tourist zone, which means shops can also open on Sundays. Our commercial centre is right by the beach. Many shoppers combine diff erent things: they go walking before or after shopping, they go for a meal, they go and see the football, or they visit an exhibition. Roadworks are an important challenge. We try to limit the inconvenience for retailers and shoppers. At the same time, we’re working on a new, smart parking plan, ensuring visitors drive as little as possible in the city centre. With a shuttle, for example, they should be able to get to the low-traff ic streets easily.”

“E-commerce and other novelties are on the up-and-up. In Ostend, we choose to focus on innovation and experience. Among others, our centre manager ensures a good mix between large chains and original boutiques. Visitors need a reason to come to our shopping centre. And why shouldn’t they discover new things here and have them delivered to their homes?”
“These past few years, our retail associations have professionalized and set up two non-profit organizations. Our retail community was asking for a fixed point of contact, collective actions, and promotions. They got those thanks to our centre manager and coordinator. In Ostend, we can boast decreasing vacancy rates, as opposed to similar cities. A business development manager is actively trying to convince retailers to open here. The Ostend tourism off ices help to build the image of a city where there’s always something to do. Even though we notice demand is highest for larger premises. If necessary, I’ll sit down with real estate operators for this opportunity, in all transparency.”