The picturesque town of Bruges is implementing a new shopping plan to ensure the availability of various commercial offerings. Authorities have decided to prohibit the opening of new souvenir shops in the city center, including chocolate boutiques and beer shops. This decision is an attempt to protect the city’s appearance, and to ensure visitors and locals a diverse shopping experience. Being one of the top tourist destinations in Belgium, Bruges is highly reliant on tourist expenditures and has consequently suffered a strong economic decline during the Covid-19 crisis.
Now, the city authorities want to stop the opening of souvenir shops, in an attempt to diversify the selection of stores and to target locals. According to the new shopping plan, the city will be divided into five areas, each one with different regulations on what stores are allowed to open and what are not. Additionally, the protagonist of the main shopping arteries won’t be chocolate anymore, but fashion. Bars, restaurants, food stores, and supermarkets will not be allowed to open in these areas. New bars and restaurants will mainly be opened in squares, while other tourists’ shops will be allowed to open in side streets.
According to alderman Franky Demon, since the Covid-19 crisis, too many shops targeting exclusively tourists have opened in the city, including in the main shopping streets.
Several premises ended up empty and were turned into tourist shops. Our shopping plan is geared to creating more diversity: shopping in Bruges must become a voyage of discovery from one shop window to anotherFranky Demon, Bruges alderman
To ensure the enforcement of the new shopping plan, Bruges’ authorities are now working on a bylaw that includes their new regulations.