The community of Maasmechelen, Belgium, is gaining guidance on the country’s tourism DNA and on its own potential for a stronger role as a tourism hub from an expert panel brought together by ULI, with the support of Value Retail, operator of Maasmechelen Village, a high-end outlet shopping village. The panel included real estate, city, and tourism experts from the U.K., Spain, and Belgium who visited Maasmechelen from June 28 to 30 to give their objective and independent opinion on the opportunities ahead. The panel focused on answering two questions: what does Maasmechelen need to do to better leverage its tourism assets to secure investment? and how can Maasmechelen provide a more complete visitor experience to the new generation of tourists? The findings are to be published this fall.

Maasmechelen mayor Georges Lenssen immersed panel members in the opportunities available to the city. The panel engaged key stakeholders representing all sections of the Maasmechelen and Limburg community, including the retail, tourism, nature, civic, and commercial sectors

“It’s a great challenge for our panelists, as leading tourism experts, to consider these strategic questions for this former mining community that has already reinvented itself,” said Alexandra Notay, vice president of strategic programs at ULI Europe, who led the panel. “We hope the panel will be able to make creative and practical suggestions for the next stage of Maasmechelen’s future.”

“Although the province of Limburg may not be familiar with this kind of approach, it will be refreshing to hear from these experts what can be done to get even more out of this tourism destination,” said David Winkels, director for Value Retail.

“With the arrival of Maasmechelen Village, ten years ago, we were privileged to receive millions of shoppers and tourists over the years,” said Lenssen. “A lot of them have discovered the unique attractiveness of Maasmechelen, the Maas region, and the province of Limburg. Now we are facing a new chapter, and we need to look to the next ten years, so the ULI advisory panel comes in at the right place at the right moment.”