"And the winner is..." The 2023 Luxembourg Tourism Awards ceremony took place on 13 July 2023. At this event, the second to be held, the actors were honoured for their innovative projects in the active tourism sector, which they help diversify through the wide-ranging touristic services and amenities that they offer. Hospitality, diversity, innovation and quality are just some of the key words that describe the tourist offer in the Grand Duchy. And they are reflected in the award-winning services and establishments!
Celebrating hospitality, culture and innovation
The General Directorate for Tourism organises the Luxembourg Tourism Awards every two years. The awards reward the actors in the sector for their initiatives and activities highlighting the quality of the Grand Duchy as a destination and the diversity of the country's offer for tourists. In Luxembourg, a cosmopolitan country in the heart of Europe, the tourism sector is constantly improving, with a view to increasing its power of attraction.
With this in mind, and according to specific criteria, a cross-disciplinary jury decides on the winners, on the basis of the projects they present in the various categories. The Luxembourg Tourism Awards focus on the notion of excellence: offering varied high-quality services, fostering innovation, catering to a local, international and very diverse clientèle, adapting to specific expectations, and enriching existing services. With these prizes for tourism, the General Directorate for Tourism hopes to encourage the sector to follow its vocation and continue diversifying what it has to offer.
Categories and winners
Active tourism is linked to rural tourism. It is based on an ecological and sustainable approach. In that spirit, it combines adventure, ecotourism, discovery and culture. Culture plays an important role in the tourism sector, by using emotion as a vehicle to create links between tourists and places.
And the 2023 winners are:
- Culture: Musée de l'Ardoise (Slate Museum), Haut-Martelange
- Adventure: UBS Moonwalker Minett
- Gastronomy: Hike & Likeguided walk, Wiltz
- Ecotourism: BENUVillage Esch
- Lodges: Minett Trail − Kabaisercher
- Campsite: Iglu Huts − Camping im Park Beaufort
- Hotel: Discover Clervaux with the Clervaux − Excellence Group
René Risch and Josy Fisch are the winners of the special Deserving Volunteer prize. René Risch has been working as a volunteer for the Frënn vun der Lee (Friends of Slate) association since it was founded in 1992 with a view to supporting and promoting the Slate Museum. He is still active there, giving demonstrations of the work involved in the slate-worker’s profession (splitting and cutting roof slates). Josy Fisch, for his part, has been a volunteer for 50 years. Amongst other things, he helps to maintain the pathways operated by the Manternach Tourist Office.
For the second year running, the City of Esch-sur-Alzette was awarded the Deserving Municipality prize for its BENU Village project, featuring the first ecovillage in the Greater Region.
The special People’s Favourite prize was awarded to the Musée de l'Ardoise in Haut-Martelange for its underground journey conveying visitors through the extraction tunnels of the slate mine.
Any business, foundation, public establishment, not-for-profit association, municipal authority or natural person active in the tourist sector can enter the competition. The various categories highlight the dynamism, passion, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that drive the various participants.
Three questions for...
Agnes Hoogenhout, for 20 years a member, and currently the president, of the Frënn vun der Lee association, set up to commemorate and preserve the heritage of the slate industry in the locality of Martelange and elsewhere.
Congratulations! You have won in two categories of the Luxembourg Tourism Awards. What motivated you to take part in the competition?
The Musée de l'Ardoise asbl submitted its bid with its brand new project featuring an underground journey at a depth of -42 metres, and the Friends of Slate support the Museum, which they created, going through their efforts as volunteers. They are its heart and soul. For that reason too, we felt that one of our numerous volunteers should clearly be nominated for the Luxembourg Tourism Awards. The two nominations clearly complemented each other. The Museum and the Friends of Slate are proud to be able, amongst all their other activities, to offer their visitors guided tours of the subterranean galleries. Having them looked after by volunteers such as Mr Risch is an extraordinary, and very precious, added bonus.
How do you think the Luxembourg Tourism Awards can have an impact on the region, and more specifically on the Slate Museum?
The Luxembourg Tourism Awards are an excellent tool for enhancing our profile above and beyond our own means of communication. They help the region and the Museum to become more visible and to attract more visitors.
Since 1992, you have been engaged in developing the Slate Museum on the territory formerly housing the old slate mines of Haut-Martelange. You have created a living eco-museum. What are your future plans in terms of development, innovation and/or enlargement?
In 1992, the Frënn vun der Lee started work in earnest on converting the site and developing the museum. Today, the museum is an autonomous entity, but we are always there to give it our help and support. And we constantly have new ideas and new projects for the future. Our volunteers do a lot of work on the rail network, and this constitutes a unique attraction for the visitors too. In addition to this, the Slate Museum, together with the INPA – the National Institute for Architectural Heritage, is currently renovating the villa formerly occupied by the owner of the mine so as to house an exhibition of photographs of the region. A project for opening a restaurant is also under way. Haut-Martelange is a wide-ranging living museum with lots of projects yet to be realised, and we invite our visitors to get involved in its development over time together with us, the volunteers of the Friends of Slate and all the professional team engaged in managing the Museum. Everyone is invited to join the Friends of Slate as active volunteers or as supporters of the Slate Museum. The "Frënn vun der Lee" association currently has over 500 members.
Our thanks to Agnes Hoogenhout for this interview; we would like to point out to readers that parts of the interview have been summarised for the purposes of this article.
The Haut-Martelange Slate Museum stands as a witness to the Greater Region’s slate industry of the 20th century. Visitors aged from four years upwards can immerse themselves in the history of the site through numerous fun activities and events throughout the year: slate cutting, a forge, riding on an industrial train, sampling a typical meal of a slate worker, creative workshops, concerts, markets, etc.
The former buildings, workshops and underground galleries are spread over an area of 8 hectares. They recreate the path taken by the slate from its extraction, via its transformation to its onward transport. Wearing sturdy shoes and a warm jacket, you can explore the working conditions of a slate worker of the time by descending into the galleries. The fascination of this unique experience will quickly make you forget that it’s cold down there!
Slate was extracted on the site from 1790 to 1986. The site was then transformed into the Slate Museum, thanks to the dedicated commitment of the volunteers of the "Frënn vun der Lee" association.
You can find further information in our article specially dedicated to the Museum.