In the wake of the recent terror attacks in Paris and the terrorists’ links to Belgium, VisitBrussels — the official communications agency for promoting tourism in Brussels — has started a new initiative, CallBrussels. People, specifically potential tourists, from around the world can call public phones in the city for free and ask residents questions about their security concerns or everyday life in the city.
The CallBrussels website say: “At the moment, many tourists still hesitate about coming to visit our magnificent capital. The Level 4 alert and lockdown are still fresh in their memory. Which is a pity because for those who live in Brussels, everything is normal in the city...”
Three telephones, like the one pictured above, have been set up around the city, at Mont des Arts and Place Flagey, and in Molenbeek, from where a number of people were recently arrested in connection with the Paris attacks. Anyone who wants to talk to someone living in Brussels and ask about the city can do so using an internet connection, from the CallBrussels website.
There is also a live webcam feed from all three locations that lets viewers see the local weather conditions and, quite importantly, if anyone is around to actually pick up the phone.
When International Business Times tried to call, we heard a prerecorded male voice saying: “Hello, someone in Brussels will be delighted to tell you about life in the city, please be patient.” After about three minutes of no one answering the phone, a different male voice, also prerecorded, said: “No one was able to answer your call right now. Please feel free to call another location or try again later.”
To be sure, we had checked the webcam before we called. However, residents of Brussels are actually picking up the phone.
— Ekaitz Cancela (@ecanrog) January 8, 2016
Callers may also not be able to get through because tourists and locals alike can often be seen, on the webcams, picking up the receiver to pose for photographs.