The success of commemorative tourism in the Westhoek
Between 2014 and 2018, three million tourists visited war sites and took part in First World War commemorative activities in the Westhoek area.
The First World War turned the history of our country and the world upside down. Various events and commemorations were held in the Westhoek (West Flanders) to mark the centenary of the 1914-1918 war. Almost half of the three million visitors were Belgians. They were followed by the British, Dutch, Australians and Americans in visitor numbers. This places the Westhoek on the international map of commemorative tourism.
The outdoor exhibition Coming World Remember Me attracted the highest number of visitors. The concept? 600,000 clay statuettes, symbolising the 600,000 soldiers who were victims of the Great War on Belgian soil, arranged at the Provincial Estate De Palingbeek. The goal of Koen Vanmechelen, the artist who staged the exhibition, was to give an artistic place in our history to these thousands of fallen soldiers.
The landscape and buildings were often silent witnesses to the Great War. In the Westhoek region, there are no fewer than 60 monuments and war sites marking the four years of conflict that ravaged the region.