Adorable pussy cats are hard to resist so Brussels, which has suffered a big lapse in tourism since serious terrorist threats plagued the city, has decided to showcase furry felines in an attempt to lure people back to the Belgium capital. According to eturbonews, “After a five-day lock down prompted by a maximum security alert, Brussels officials are attempting to entice back tourists who may have been scared away by images of soldiers armed with machine guns in the capital’s deserted streets with a secret weapon, cats.” The city was locked down shortly after the Paris attacks of Nov. 13, 2015, with the highest security alert that prompted the shutdown of restaurants, commerce subways and school. With the lowering of the threat level on Thursday Nov. 26 tourism officials are hoping that tourists will start flooding into town especially since the popular Christmas market opens next Friday.
Cats became an unofficial mascot of the Brussels lock down when residents created a feline frenzy on social media posting hundreds of kitty pictures this week, after a plea from police not to share information about ongoing raids. While Belgians posted pictures of cats on Twitter the police tweeted a photo of a bowl of cat food to thank people for their help and tourism officials are now using images of cats at famous Brussels landmarks in a light-hearted attempt to lure tourists. One tweet worth checking out is Kelly Veysey @Veyseygirl Nov 22 “@tony_colville: Well played Belg. Not giving in 2 fear & making #BrusselsLockdown the best hashtag of ’15 #Cats. “
Officials are concerned that Brussels’ Atomium, a nine-sphere structure of an iron crystal that is one of the city’s biggest draws, is one indication of a serious visitors lull because the monument has only seen a trickle of tourists in the last week. Spokeswoman Inge Van Eycken said there was no precedent for closing the attraction due to terrorism fears and said they are relying on some kitty power, among other measures, to bring visitors back. Hotel occupancy in the city has fallen 20 percent since the terrorist alert. Eturbonews reported that Patrick Bontick, head of Brussels’ tourism office, said he hoped tourists would be reassured that authorities had taken all necessary measures to protect the city. “Even in a bad situation, we can also have some humor in Brussels,” he said. “We’re a surrealistic country,” he said, adding he hoped the cats would provide a “friendly” image of the city.
“We have faced four really difficult days, but now it’s over,” he said. “Life has begun again.” Let’s hope he’s right and the city starts ‘purring’ again.