Thanks to its location at the crossroads between France and Germany and as one of the three European capitals in the EU, Strasbourg is one of France’s most visited cities. The city is now trying to redefine its image as a model town for durable, environment-friendly tourism. The latest icon to this commitment is a spectacular Exhibition Centre, built on sustainable criteria.
As one of the most historical cities in Europe, Strasbourg has been a well-known tourism destination for decades. Starting with the medieval and renaissance old town with its half-timbered houses, magnificent cathedral and its Christmas Market, one of the oldest in Europe. The city was once again added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. After its historical old town, in 1997, UNESCO added the “Neustadt”, the 19th century quarters of the city as it features a fully preserved architecture dating back to the Second German Empire.
The city’s authorities are looking to redefine tourism in the city are now being explored following a change to the municipal team in 2020. The arrival of the Green Party as the head of the city gave way to new ideas and plans to turn the city into an even more sustainable and inclusive destination while recognising the importance of tourism plays to the city’s economy.
New branding to highlight Strasbourg as a model for sustainability
“We have this vocation as a crossroads of Europe and this must remain,” says Michèle Leclerc, mayor of one of the numerous municipalities that makes up the Eurometropolis District of Strasbourg. “We need to further reinforce the sustainability component.”
She continues: “By completely embracing sustainability in tourism, we want to show how Strasbourg can turn into a model for other mid-size metropolises in Europe. And help create a new image not only for Strasbourg but the entire region of Alsace and the Rhine basin.
“There is a strong desire to develop the European attractiveness of our destination and elevate Strasbourg to the place where all the cultures along the Rhine can meet.
“This is one of our current tasks to build up that brand. We target 2023 to present that rebranding of Strasbourg.”
In parallel, the Eurometropolis wants to merge Strasbourg Office of Tourism a well as Strasbourg Convention Bureau. “This is not a question of costs but more a question of bundling together all the forces within our local industry with a single target to be even more efficient,” she explains. “
Taking tourism to new heights relies on world-standard infrastructure. The city is well equipped with a total accommodation capacity of 10,700 rooms across 164 hotels.
In 2021, the Hotel des Vosges, an art-deco building reopened its doors. In the same year, a project to renovate one of the city’s traditional five-star properties, Maison Rouge, was also completed. The most recent addition to Strasbourg’s hospitality industry was the luxury Leonor Hotel. Located in a former 18th century mansion, it opened its doors in November 2021
Next to open are Marriott Residence Inn and AC. All together the complex will offer 80 apartments and 170 rooms. Hotels should be available to the public before the end of the year. “We appreciate the arrival of international chains as they anchor Strasbourg internationally, particularly for the business travel and MICE sector,” tells Mireille Dartus, Director of Strasbourg Convention Bureau.
A new Exhibition Centre as a benchmark of a new Strasbourg
Business travel and MICE activities are in full swing with the opening of the spectacular new Strasbourg Exhibition Centre (Parc des Expositions). The new structure was built by the Japanese star architect Kengo Kuma. Drawing its inspiration from history, poetry and traditional Japanese culture, Kuma created a structure of 24,000 m2 where wooden panels and structure gives an atmosphere balancing between Japan and Scandinavia which also integrates important green spaces surrounding the Exhibition Centre.
The integration of wood was made on the basis of demanding environmental criteria: the 2,400 m2 of
wooden structure protects the building from the sun, geo-cooling and natural ventilation. It is completed by, 5,000 m2 of photovoltaic panels, the largest installation in the Grand Est region for a building.
“We have totally revisited criteria for organising exhibitions as we want to show that sustainability and climate protection are the DNA of our activity,” explains Christophe Caillaud-Joos, DG of Strasbourg events, the semi-public MICE incoming agency owned by the City, Strasbourg Eurometropolis and GL events group. “We want to be a new reference and we will continue to improve our sustainability indexes. It is a step-by-step approach.”
The new structure represents an investment of some €120 million and its target is to help growing Strasbourg MICE events by 30% to 50% until 2025. The Parc des Expositions is indeed turning into Strasbourg new icon and its best reflection of its future as an ecological metropolis associating aesthetics and a sense of uniqueness.