There’s no doubt about it, Brussels has been in the eye of the storm for the past week or more.
However yesterday (Thurs., Nov. 26), brought some good news as the Belgian Coordinating Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAM/OCAD) announced that the terrorist alert for the Brussels-Capital Region was being lowered from lever 4 to level 3 and indicated that the “greatest threat has passed.”
Patrick Bontinck, CEO of visit.brussels, commented: “These were difficult days for Brussels, but we never lost confidence in our security services. The decision to raise the threat level to the maximum in Brussels was made for our own safety, that of residents and visitors.”
Bontinck continued: “Of course, this ‘Brussels Lockdown’ was not easy. Like all other locals, we as a tourism office had to face an unprecedented situation. We were in constant contact with the regional government, the tourist services of the two other Belgian regions and our tourism partners in Brussels. Thanks to this collaboration we managed to communicate on the situation as much as possible in an open way to tourists whom were present in Brussels as potential visitors. Especially the Brussels hotels were an important partner in the care of visitors present in our capital the weekend of Nov. 21.”
And while the threat the city has been facing is no laughing matter, the people of Brussels have certainly given the world “paws” with the way that they’ve handled the lockdown situation.
Consider what’s now being described as the “cat wink” that’s appeared on social media during the lockdown with people sending out images of their cats and how they’ve been handling the situation. It was a response that eased tensions in the city and generated a great deal of sympathy within the country and abroad.
And considering that tourism has always been a force for peace and understanding, it seemed only appropriate for the likes of visit.brussels, Toerisme Vlaanderen and Wallonie-Bruxelles Tourisme to get involved in celebrating the message that its citizens have been sending out to the world.
Tourism officials, noting that they are proud of the people of Brussels, decided they’d show their support during the #Brusselslockdown, so they sent a camera crew to the centre of Brussels earlier this week and even though the city was in lockdown, the crew met smiling locals, enthusiastic tourists and … a surprisingly high number of cats.
The result … well, it’s kind of a surreal, 20-second ode to Brussels … and to check it out – as well as to get the latest updates on the situation – go to http://visitbrussels.be/bitc/BE_en/content/36132/security-and-opened-places-in-brussels.do … or click on the photo that appears with this story … because it’s definitely the “cat’s meow!” …
Oh, and if you’re curious – as most cats are – the image of the apple in front of a face is from an iconic painting – The Son of Man (1946) – by Rene Magritte – http://www.renemagritte.org – a famous Belgian artist who lived most of his life in Brussels.