UNITWIN 2019: Value of Heritage for Tourism

Leuven hosted the 6th UNESCO UNITWIN conference from 8-12 April 2019. During the conference, the participants shared their research and findings on the value of heritage for tourism. Prof. dr. Dominique Vanneste, professor at the KU Leuven Faculty of Science, talks about the strengths and opportunities of choosing Leuven as a conference city.

Prof. dr. Dominique Vanneste

'Leuven has a lot to offer in terms of conference tourism. The city itself has an extensive infrastructure, mostly due to the university buildings. Besides that, the location itself is very convenient: close to Brussels, close to the airport and international trains. One of our keynote speakers visited Leuven for the first time and was pleasantly surprised. ‘The city offers a good alternative to Brussels and is so easily accessible. Leuven is a well-kept secret.' Prof. Vanneste enthuses.

Leuven is a well-kept secret as a conference city.

- Prof. dr. Dominique Vanneste

'A successful conference puts the organising city on the map, and vice versa. I want the participants to go home with an enthusiastic feeling about the conference and the city. It would give me great pleasure were they to return to Belgium and choose Leuven for a recreational visit with their families and friends. Although a conference focuses more on knowledge rather than the experience, you can't exclude the emotional aspect of a city. The choice for a certain conference is very much linked to the place and venue itself.'

‘Bidding for, and hosting a conference is a leap of faith. However, if it’s a success, it puts your city, your research group, your educational program and your network in the international spotlight. It’s certainly not for only for personal benefit. It reflects also your professionalism and hospitality as a research group, as a university and as a city. This conference was a success due to the professionalism of the organising committee’