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Date: 02/02/2015
Source: FICC

The Touring Club de Belgique was founded on 22 February 1895. At that time bicycles were all the rage and a young lieutenant in the carabineers came up with the idea of creating an association, persuaded that it could prove to be extremely useful for the cycling fraternity.
Soon the first issue of the TCB official journal appeared, a monthly publication which, although it changed over the years, nevertheless remained a useful tool of communication for the association’s members.
In the same year, King Leopold II granted this young association his patronage. Even to this day the monarchy continues to show keen interest and King Albert II is Honorary President of TCB’s various sections.

In the early days, cycling trips were organised throughout the country and it was not long before members started campaigning on several fronts: for improvements to be made to the road network, for protection and conservation of castles and monuments that were falling into disrepair, for paths leading to border areas to be opened up and for good signposting to be introduced for the benefit of tourists.

In 1901, TCB set up a Commission for Monuments and Historical Sites that helped save the Coo waterfall, Orval Abbey, the Baudets Bridge in Bruges etc. Then in 1906 a camping section was started, closely followed by another section devoted to water sports.
At that point TCB started to play an important part in the development of the leisure and tourism sector and came up with a number of thoughtful and friendly initiatives such as floral decorations in railway stations, organising big outdoor events and creating travel grants to be awarded to schoolchildren who had done especially well in history and geography at school.

But in 1914 all of these ventures came to an abrupt halt with the outbreak of war. At the time the Touring Club had 85,000 members.

In 1920 TCB moved to 44 rue de la Loi and welcomed its 100,000th member.
In the following years the association concentrated its efforts on the burgeoning automobile sector and worked towards introducing a coherent policy for promoting tourism through publications, conferences and “Club“ excursions. TCB was also very supportive of the initiative to set up the Belgian National Tourist Office which dates from this time.

In the 1930s TCB was very involved in the country’s tourism infrastructure programme which included marking out walking trails, setting up panoramic viewpoints and observation platforms, creating tourist offices and youth hostels.
The last issue of the Official Bulletin appeared on 1 May 1940 and, as in 1914-1918, the TCB survived as best it could.

The “Golden Age“ of the club started straight after the war when tourism and motoring began to develop rapidly.
Touring Secours asbl was founded on 19 February 1948 and, soon after, the first 12 patrolmen appeared on their famous motorbikes and sidecars.

In 1955, when the Club celebrated its 60th anniversary, ist membership stood at 310,000.
The Touring Club and Touring Secours were both very involved with the World Exhibition held in Brussels in 1958. The international tourist carnet was introduced in the same year and it proved to be invaluable for TCB members travelling abroad. It was later to become the Touring Assistance Carnet.

The 1960s saw big improvements in campsites. Campers and caravanners who went to TCB-owned campsites were granted discounts and this arrangement even extended to campsites abroad.
Touring Secours’ success story continued and it replaced its motorbikes and sidecars with comfortable vehicles.

In 1967 a Tourism Commission for Young People was set up to organise a “Youth Travel Scholarships“ competition that would enable young people to travel and fulfil the journey of their dreams.
In the 1970s, more people were starting to travel much further afield. This led Touring Secours to set up “Voyages Touring Club“ in 1971 which became a limited company in 1977. It arranged hugely successful cultural trips led by archeologists, historians and art historians.
Touring Secours continued to offer its members round-the-clock service.

At the beginning of 1990 Touring Secours and Touring Club merged their two publications. They wanted to offer their 850,000 membership an interesting magazine that would be an indispensable link between the members and their club, defending their interests and providing information on anything and everything that related to motoring, tourism and leisure activities. All

of TCB’s operations and services were now housed under one roof in new premises in rue de la Loi.

In 1995 Touring Club marked its centenary with celebrations that practically spanned the whole year, starting with a visit by King Albert and Queen Paola and ending with a big concert in the Brussels’ main concert hall, the Palais des Beaux-Arts.
Three years later Touring Secours celebrated its 50th anniversary with a huge rally of vintage vehicles under the Cinquantenaire arch in Brussels.
Today TCB’s one million members makes it the biggest motoring club in the country.
Source: TCB

This year Touring Club Royal de Belgique is 120 years old. It became a member of F.I.C.C. in 2014 – one of our Federation’s “younger“ members.
We congratulate TCB on its past achievements and wish the Club continued success for all of its future projects.