With large parts of the country engulfed in the latest heatwave this weekend, thousands sought relief on the coast flocking to Belgian beaches for a chance to cool off. Official figures show that this resulted in the highest number of overnight stays in two years.
The number of overnight stays by Belgian and international holidaymakers is estimated at 880,000; Saturday saw more than 310,000 overnight stays – the highest number recorded this and last summer, according to West Flanders' tourist office, Westtoer.
"Holidays in one's own country are more than ever a trend," delegate and chair of Westtoer Sabien Lahaye-Battheu, told VRT News. This continues to be true this summer, despite the fact that travelling abroad now is easier than during the previous two summers.
The hotels registered an average occupancy rate of more than 95%, of which international bookings accounted for approximately 30%. "The renewed interest of international holidaymakers is a boost," Lahaye-Battheu said.
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These mainly include tourists from the Netherlands, Germany, France and Luxembourg. Many also stayed at holiday homes and camping sites, for which the extended weekend was also a success. Many people who own a second home at the coast also stayed there for the extended weekend of 15 August.
The number of people staying at the coast until Monday, however, is much lower due to the changeable weather and cooler coastal temperatures.