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A Contested Ethnic Tourism Asset: The Case of Matonge in Brussels

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Brussels, often referred to as the Capital of Europe, has a flourishing "African" quarter called Matonge (named after a quarter of Kinshasa, Congo) that is becoming an important tourist destination within Brussels. On the up since the 1960s, Matonge can boast African food stores, clothes boutiques, and hairstylists as well as African bars and restaurants. Yet the district is a multicultural one, with the sub-Saharan community being only one user group among many. For about a decade the area has attracted tourists and features in private guided tour programs and guide books as an ethnic tourism destination with an African flavor. Tourism authorities have ignored this development for a long time. However, due to the various changes in urban tourism demand, they have recently included Matonge in their tourism promotion initiatives by creating an itinerary in the quarter. This article looks at certain underlying issues that may either boost or hinder tourism development. Through an integrated approach based on in-depth interviews with stakeholders and surveys with shop owners and passers-by, it tackles decision-making processes and public policies related to the tourism development of the area. Furthermore, the article identifies the different user groups and analyzes the role of the community under scrutiny and their perception of the development.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-02-01

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  • Tourism, Culture & Communication is international in its scope and will place no restrictions upon the range of cultural identities covered, other than the need to relate to tourism and hospitality. The Journal seeks to provide interdisciplinary perspectives in areas of interest that may branch away from traditionally recognized national and indigenous cultures, for example, cultural attitudes toward the management of tourists with disabilities, gender aspects of tourism, sport tourism, or age-specific tourism.
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