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Belgium uses Bollywood, beer and more to attract Indian visitors

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Using Bollywood, beer and the charms of its cities and Bruges, has upped the number of its tourists from but wants the to rise higher by advancing cooperation in the field of as well as education.

What we want to do is to make better known among Indians. As Indians are travelling more and more, they are visiting many European countries," said Francois Delhaye, Belgium's to

The country's capital may not be as well as known as it deserves to be, Delhaye told

The two countries should concentrate on student exchange besides

In the education sector, we have a growing number of Indians now in but we want to have more Indian students especially in sciences because Indian students are so good, Delhaye said.

According to an estimate, Indian students are enrolled in 18 major universities in About 400-600 students register in the KU each academic year, making them the second largest student community from a non-European community after in the university in the town of

Delhaye added that there is already a large Indian presence in Brussels with more than 80 companies there.

Belgium is the home to international beer. We recently launched an Indian beer which was brought from Belgium but for the taste of Indians... after a few years it will be probably brewed here in India, he said.

Brussels, home of the European Parliament, has long been a pit stop for many tourists from the Indian subcontinent travelling to Netherlands, or France, added Anousjka Schmidt, foreign markets manager, Visit Brussels, the communication agency for in the Brussels-Capital Region.

However, the city's many amusement parks, museums, including the one dedicated to the Herges' boy Tintin, and delights like Belgian waffles are drawing more people from for longer stays, she said.

She noted that much has changed in the past few years with Belgium opening its doors to Bollywood, handing out easy licenses for film-shooting.

A portion of starrer "PK", which released in 2014, was shot in the picturesque canal city of

According to statistics portal Statista, the number of outbound trips from India to in 2017 was 27,14,000.

In 2017, over 53,000 Indians travelled to Brussels for at least one night's stay, a 25 per cent jump from 2016, said Schmidt.

Brussels is growing to become an important go-to destination in all European itineraries. From January to July this year, Indian arrival to Brussels grew by over 14 per cent in comparison with the same period last year. While a significant rise of over 21 per cent in the number of nights spend in Brussels by Indians has been observed, Schmidt said.

She said Brussels is promoting 20 different theme, including sports, heritage and gastronomy, in India.

We noted that for India, beer is a very important segment, chocolates too, and Belgian waffles, everything that is related to family activities... and shopping is a very important element. We are trying to focus on these important factors and build itineraries accordingly, she said.

Schmidt noted that Brussels had a rough period after the terrorist attacks in 2016. However, tourists from India didn't stop from going to Brussels.

"Our first mission is to convince people who click a couple of pictures to stay at least one night in Brussels. We want to increase the numbers for sure but it is difficult to say whether we want them to double in the years to come.

"From 2016 to 2017, we have seen up to 25 per cent increase, which is an important number. And we want to keep going, she said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, December 06 2018. 12:20 IST