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    Attacks have significant impact on Flanders tourism

    The 22nd March attacks last year had a significant impact upon tourism in Flanders. Overnight tourist stays declined by 5.6%. This is according to figures from Tourisme Vlaanderen (Flanders Tourism) and the Flemish Minister of Tourism, Ben Weyts.

    The breakdown shows that 29,088,000 overnight tourist stays were recorded last year in the north of the country.

    Although the overnight stays reserved by Belgians remained fairly stable (with a decline of 0.4%), those of foreign tourists decreased significantly. This was particularly the case with British tourists (having a decline of 20%), American tourists (a decline of 25%) and the Japanese (down by 45%).

    Moreover it emerges from a European study by TourMis that terrorism still affects tourism.

    Thus, although there were average increases to European destinations of 2%, the countries affected by terrorist attacks saw their global total of overnight stays decline.

    This is the case in France (which declined by 4%) and, in particular, Turkey (which slumped by 31%).

    Finally, the last few months of 2016 allowed for some damage limitation, having a December during which the number of French tourists increased by 40%. Equally the number of visitors to Spain and Denmark respectively increased by 45% and 50% in the same period.

    Further confirmation of this trend was seen at the beginning of 2017, with a 55% rate of hotel occupation in January and February. This figure is higher than the previous two years.

    Ben Weyts concluded, “There is still a long way to go before we return to full capacity. However, the foundations have been laid.”

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times