Leo Van Broeck, Flemish Bouwmeester (architect) since 2016, has gotten under the skin of many people with his ambitious plans for the creation of more nature and his drive towards living smaller and closer. “Every local decision must be seen in a perspective of responsible handling of the planet. You can’t act locally without thinking globally”, he says.
When this principle is applied to tourism, he comes up with a few interesting insights. He sees synergies with respect to infrastructure. “Why not open a hotel swimming pool for the locals? Or turn the restaurant in an old people’s home into a tourist restaurant?” Leo Van Broeck champions a genuine ‘sharing economy’ that creates greater equality and facilitates the redistribution of capital. The profits from Airbnb, for example, would be injected back into the local economy. “If profits are drained back to a few rich people on the other side of the ocean, the local economy will end up just processing the waste and fine particles.” Overall transport needs should be reduced, in his opinion. “Can you try to limit the number of trips you make?” Short flights, under 1,000 km must be eliminated. “We shouldn't wait for Elon Musk’s hyperloop; the high-speed train is good enough.” When he looks towards the future, both in terms of urban development and tourism, the Flemish Bouwmeester concludes: “We must decrease on every front.”