American tourists return to Flanders following pandemic

American tourists return to Flanders following pandemic
Passengers waiting in the departure hall of Brussels Airport. Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

Flanders is once again receiving an increasing number of American visitors following a difficult period for the region's tourism sector as a result of the travel restrictions put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While many visitors to Flanders come from neighbouring countries, the United States was the most important intercontinental origin market for tourism in the region before the pandemic. Today, it is once again returning to this position, according to Flemish Tourism Minister Zuhal Demir.

"During the first four months of the pandemic-driven year 2021, barely 3,000 American tourists visited Flanders. This year, from January to April, there were once again 45,000," said Demir. " The upward trend is, therefore, more than clear."

While there are few official figures available for this year's summer months, Tourism Flanders expects that there will be three times as many overnight stays by Americans as in the summer of 2021 based on booking data in hotels and b&b's.

"The fact that our American visitors are clearly back is certainly good news for our Flemish art cities, which have to rely on foreigners for the bulk of their overnight stays," said Demir.

Spending more

Americans in general also spend more on average than any other international visitor to Flanders, which "underlines the macro-economic importance of this long-distance market as a whole."

During Demir's work visit to the United States, she organised a round table to meet some of the key tourism players together with Tourism Flanders / Visit Flanders.

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The Flemish Masters (artists from the early 15th century until the 17th century, including Rubens, Bruegel and Van Eyck), together with congresses, bicycle and beer tourism, are the spearheads of the international promotion of Flanders in the US.

"We welcome our American friends back to Flanders with open arms and will continue to promote our top Flemish destinations here," Demir concluded.

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