Hiking in Belgium06/01/2017

Hiking has been popular in Belgium for many years.

The pioneer of hiking paths is Maurice Coyn, who was active in the Belgium touring club from 1920 to 1950.

He published many books on the Belgian Ardennes.

From 1930 to 1939, he developed and signposted many footpaths called Belgian touring club tourist trails.

These paths were the departure points for long-distance hiking trails in Belgium and France.

In 1936, the Ourthe trail went from Angleur to Houffalize.

In 1939, the international trail of Holland, Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and France was created.

He was the head of tourism for the City of Brussels and the secretary for Ardennes and Gaume.

Many articles were published for the Belgium, Ardennes and Gaume touring club.

The touring club of Belgium's archives may be consulted in Louvain-la-Neuve.

Long-distance hiking trails became popular in 1959 in the Liege region thanks to the efforts of the Cailloux brothers.

Nowadays, the long-distance hiking trial network in Brussels and Wallonia offers more than 5,000 km of waymarked paths.

Initially, walkers made use of public transport and stayed at youth hostels, refuges and campsites.

Hiking enthusiasts carried large rucksacks, with a tent and food supplies.

Now, hiking requires much lighter equipment.

Hiking offers the chance to discover tourist or other sites off the beaten track, unknown landscapes inaccessible by motorised transport, trails along rivers or streams, and more.

Nowadays, we use technologies, such as GPS, to create and track our own hiking trails.

There are many websites and blogs among the large number of tourists, walkers and hikers, not to mention websites managed by tourism authorities, cities and municipalities.

We encourage as many foreign tourists as possible to come and discover Belgium and Wallonia.

The first contact is often via the Internet or Wallonie Bruxelles Tourisme, for example.

We try to offer tourists a good welcome in order to ensure that they make a repeat visit to us at a later date.

Volunteering also has a role to play in tourism promotion.

Who is in the best position to inform tourists about their own experience of walks?

The motto for hiking trails is one day on a path = eight days of health.

Belgium is the land of good beer, cheese, potato fries, regional dishes, and more.

Gastronomy is also something that is popular among tourists.

Whatever the destination in Wallonia, there is a huge choice.

We are lucky to be able to enjoy the waymarked footpaths of the Belgian French language hiking federation, www.ffbmp.be, on weekdays and at weekends

Another form of tourism is the collaboration of greeters, who offer visitors the chance to discover a province or city in the same way as if it were a friend who was showing you around.

Openness to the world, we have to know several languages in order to receive them.

These ideas will help to present the welcoming region of Wallonia to visitors.

 

Jean-Pierre Englebert

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