Tourism regulation

Regulation is one of the instruments through which policy objectives can be realised. In this context, a number of important points of interest apply, including efficiency, clarity, transparency, reduction of the administrative burden for the citizen and limitation of administrative costs for the authorities.
The Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs employs its expertise to steer this design process in the right direction.

Flemish Tourism Accommodation Act

On 1 January 2010, the new ‘Flemish Tourism Accommodation Act’ came into force. The Act replaces among other things the 'Flemish Hotel Act' of 1984 and the 'Flemish Camping Act' of 1993 and applies to all tourism accommodation offered within the Flemish Region.

The umbrella accommodation regulation must lead to more quality assurance for the tourist, a guarantee for fair competition between the different sectors and a clarification of the diverse offer. The regulation aims both at a modernisation and a reinforcement of the quality assurance as well as at a simplification of the existing regulation and a considerable reduction in administrative burden.

Flemish Travel Agency Act

On 1 September 2007, the 'Flemish Travel Agency Act' came into force. The Act replaces in the Flemish Region among other things the Act of 1965 on the status of the travel agencies. After more than 40 years, the Flemish travel agencies now have an updated status. The regulation also defines the notion of 'tourism letting agency'. The framework of the act clearly defines who is allowed to call himself a travel agency (or tourism letting agency), what the conditions are and which activities are subject to licensing.

Selling trips and/or holidays is trading promises. Everything happens on the basis of trust. Therefore, protecting the traveller is a priority. The tourist must be able to rely on a high-quality provision of services. This future-oriented regulation must guarantee a qualitative partner for the traveller and aims not to impose unnecessary burdens on the sector.

Thanks to the new Flemish Parliament Act, it will also be possible to combat fraud more efficiently. Anyone who acts without a licence or wrongfully calls himself a travel agency can be penalised with an administrative fine. In extreme cases, the order to have the operation discontinued can even be given.

Tourism Advisory and Appeal Committees

The Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs accommodates the following tourism advisory and appeal committees. The Department holds the secretariat of these committees, among other things:

  • within the framework of the Flemish Tourism Accommodation Act, (the Act of 10 July 2008 on tourism accommodation):  
    • the tourism accommodation advisory committee
    • the tourism accommodation appeal committee
    • the Technical Committee on Fire Safety for tourism accommodation
  • within the framework of the Flemish Travel Agency Act (the Act of 2 March 2007 on the status of travel agencies): 
    • the travel agencies advisory committee
    • the travel agencies appeal committee
  • within the framework of the Tourism for All Act (the Act of 18 July 2003 on the accommodations and associations that carry out activities within the framework of 'Tourism for All'): 
    • the Technical Committee on Fire Safety for Tourism for All accommodations

Tourism for All

In addition to having substantial economic importance, tourism is also extremely beneficial in social/societal terms. Age, health and financial or cultural background can, however, form a barrier to full participation in tourism and leisure. Flanders is endeavouring to play a facilitative role here too. Tourism for All is, therefore, a form of tourism that pays particular attention to certain social groups for whom going on holiday is not always an easy option: young people, disabled people or those with physical restrictions, the elderly, families, people who live in poverty and so on. The high holiday ‘threshold’ is, therefore, lowered so that as many people as possible are given the opportunity to go on holiday. The regulations offer a framework, objectives and budgetary possibilities to institutions and organisations involved in social tourism, including youth tourism.
With an eye to modifying the current Tourism for All regulations, the Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs, in close consultation with Tourism Flanders-Brussels, assessed the Tourism for All regulations in terms of the existing implementing orders. This led to adjustments such as a reduction of the administrative burden by simplifying recognition and financing conditions and procedures, the creation of an unambiguous legal framework and the introduction of the accessibility label and the hostel category.

Tourism Partnerships

Since the Flemish Parliament Act on inter-municipal cooperation (DIS) of 6 July 2001 changed the rules regarding partnerships between cities/municipalities, the provincial level and/or the private actors, the existence of tourism partnerships was seriously threatened. Especially the conditions with respect to the financial component, the administrative component and the participation of the private sector in the partnerships raised the debate.

The specific needs of partnerships in the tourism sector, the conclusions of the debate on core tasks regarding tourism and recreation and the part played by the provinces, cities and municipalities, often decisive in the field, led to the Act on the Organisation and Recognition of Tourism Partnerships. The Act, creating a legal framework, was approved by the Flemish Parliament on 18 February 2009 and then promulgated by the Government of Flanders on 6 March 2009.

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