The Belgian coast is expecting an influx of tourists this long Ascension weekend. Hotels near the coast are already 80-90% fully booked, according to figures from regional tourist organisation Westtoer on 25 May.
The Feast of the Ascension is a public holiday in Belgium, which commemorates the bodily ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. It is traditionally celebrated 39 days after Easter. The holiday has fallen on a Thursday this year, leading many to book a long weekend away with their friends and family.
Many businesses, including many shops and shopping establishments, are closed during this period. All government services, municipal, regional, and federal, will be closed during this period.
Despite a drizzly forecast for this weekend, the tourism sector is optimistic, according to Westtoer. According to the regional organisation’s statistics, hotel occupancy rates for Thursday-Friday and Friday-Saturday are up to 90%. During Easter, occupancy rates along the coast reached up to 95%.
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During the height Covid-19 pandemic, the beach experience was complicated by the issuing of 'passes' and other anti-epidemic measures. With most restrictions dropped across the country, even on public transport, this weekend will offer travellers a pre-pandemic holiday experience.
As the weather forecast improves slightly over the coming days, many hotels and tourist agencies are hopeful for an uptake in last-minute bookings.
Some popular coastal spots for Belgian and international tourists alike are Ostend, De Panne, Blankenberg, De Haan, and Oostdunikerke.