As a player in social tourism and a meeting and accommodation centre for many years, the Domaine de Villers-Ste-Gertrude (Kaleo asbl network) is nestled in the picturesque village of the same name, on the heights of Durbuy (Belgium). With its buildings of different capacities in natural stone surrounded by a 4 hectare arboretum, we welcome a diverse and varied public every day of the year: families, groups, associations, schools, etc.
The world health crisis of Covid-19 was, for our Estate and our teams, a compulsory and necessary halt to our activities. In addition to the difficulties that this forced pause caused, it had the positive effect of (re)putting the human being at the centre of everyone's thoughts! It is usually difficult to discern the opportunities that emerge from a crisis and it will probably take time to analyse the impact of the one we are currently experiencing. But it appears as a "trend" to question the system on a global scale, to search for meaning, to (re)connect to the essential things and to the other. In practice, for example, we are witnessing (in Belgium) changes in eating habits, such as a return to the local. Or again, a recognition and valorisation of essential professions such as health care, for which many people applaud every night. Etc.
Tourism will not escape this search for meaning and has an important role to play in the construction of our "post-covid" society! It will be a question of making change of scenery and leisure activities accessible to all, of promoting and highlighting the local wealth around accommodation, of offering enriching experiences on a personal but also collective level while respecting the environment.
Finally, to make a stay a human adventure that makes sense. This crisis (however difficult it may be for our sector) has enabled us, as an operator of social tourism and a meeting and accommodation centre, to consolidate our vision and strengthen the missions that have been driving us for many years. At the present time, it is all the more fundamental for us :
- to welcome and help organize individual or group stays in order to promote personal and civic development through a change of scenery;
- and to develop projects of public meetings within our Domain to allow multicultural exchanges; to raise awareness of different social themes, to encourage living together; etc.
Until we know where this crisis will lead us, we have the means and tools to make our voice heard.
The society of tomorrow is at our doorstep, let us show our resilience with all the experience, wealth and strength of the tourism sector to respond to the search for meaning that this virus will have engendered.