Mini-Europe’s management has announced that the tourist park will close on December 31st of this year. The company cites the impact of the corona crisis and the lack of a new lease agreement with the city of Brussels as the main reasons. According to Brussels’ Mayor, Philippe Close (PS), a fair deal had been offered.
Managing Director Thierry Meeùs reported that the corona crisis had hit Mini-Europe, and that instead of the usual 400,000 visitors, an estimate of 100,000 would be visiting the park this year. Meeùs cites the lack of agreement on a fourth extension of the contract with Brussels Expo as the main reason for their decision.
“We regret this situation for the staff who have remained loyal to us for so long, 31 years for some,” said Meeùs. “We thank them wholeheartedly for all their work in recent years. The current circumstances and the corona crisis has hit the company hard.”
The City of Brussels, which is responsible for the lease, has stated several times that it’s in favor of Mini-Europe’s continued existence. Until now, Mini-Europe has had to pay 250,000 euros a year to be able to use 2.5 hectares of land. “That’s ridiculously little for such a large area of land in the city,” said Maïté van Rampelbergh, spokeswoman for Brussels’ Mayor, Philippe Close (PS).
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The conditions of the lease, it has been reported, date back to 1989. “The city is in no condition to allow for a commercial company to make a profit on the shoulders of the city with this kind of subsidy,” said Van Rampelbergh.
The proposal also included agreements on possibilities for expansion within the framework of the development project Neo, so that Mini-Europe, for example, had room to organize events. Although the city thought it was offering fair conditions, Mini-Europe’s management considered it could not live with that. Meeùs has labeled the revised lease as the decisive factor to pull the plug on the tourist park.
The city of Brussels, however, regrets this decision. “The rental agreement of recent years was no longer in line with the current context,” said van Rampelbergh. “Mini-Europe makes a profit of 1 million euros a year, and Mr Meeùs says that the closure is bad for his employees, but that he has their future in his hands. He only has to cede 10 percent of that substantial profit.”