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    One in three is ready to holiday in Belgium

    Preference is sifting away from the coast towards something green and rural. © Tom Linster ANB

    One person in three would be ready now to go on holiday within Belgium, according to a survey carried out by the Flemish tourism agency Toerisme Vlaanderen (TV).

    Four out or ten people surveyed said they had taken the opportunity during the time when travel was restricted to discover and appreciate their own surroundings, with 34% saying they will travel more in Belgium in the future.

    But eight out of ten said they would be avoiding busy destinations in the coming months, an indication, TV said, that people are aware of the risks of the pandemic, and are prepared to change their plans as a result.

    The survey has now been carried out twice, once from May 7 to 11, and once from May 22 to 27. In the interim, museums opened their doors again, and decisions were announced regarding people with a second home and the opening of summer camps for children and young people.

    The relaxation of the lockdown also had an effect on people’s future plans.

    Before the lockdown, about 80% of respondents said they had concrete holiday plans for later in the year. In the first of the two surveys, that number had fallen to only 44%. By the time the second survey came around, the number had risen again to 54% – still some way under the original number.

    One in five said they were planning to travel more inside Belgium this summer. And when asked what type of destination they prefer, the vast majority before the coronavirus would have opted for a coastal holiday. Now, however, the preference has shifted substantially towards more rural, green surroundings.

    An important question weighing in favour of staying in Belgium for the holidays was uncertainty over being able to travel back once abroad. The pandemic has so far produced stories of tourists being stranded on holiday, and 54% of people surveyed gave that as an incentive to stay home.

    Other reasons people found persuasive were the risk of infection (48%) and a fear that preventive measures in holiday destinations would make the stay there disagreeable (35%).

    The survey was carried out among 1,200 Belgians who had spent at least one holiday in Belgium in the last three years. Another three similar surveys are planned for June and July.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times