International tourists cause increase in overnight bookings at Belgian coast

International tourists cause increase in overnight bookings at Belgian coast
Credit: Belga/Nicolas Maeterlinck

The number of overnight bookings for accommodation on the Belgian coast has increased compared to 2021, particularly due to the high number of international visitors, show figures from the provincial company Westtoer on Monday.

Currently, the number of booked rooms in coastal hotels for the summer months is 14% higher compared to the number at the same time last year. International bookings account for 31% of the booked rooms, whereas last year this was only 20%, according to Flemish Tourism Minister Zuhal Demir.

"Domestic visitors have largely kept the tourism sector afloat during the pandemic. The fact that foreign tourists are now also finding their way to the Flemish coast again, suggests the best for the future of the sector," she added.

Up until 2019, the Belgian coast saw around 2.6 to 2.7 million holidaymakers in commercial accommodation every year. As a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, however, the number of visitors dropped dramatically to 1.6 million.

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Now, the figures are on the up again: the number of Belgian visitors approximately reaches the same level as in 2019 again, and the number of international tourists is also cautiously rising again.

Holiday homes by the sea are also doing well, with an average occupancy rate between 75% and 85%. Rental agencies expect, depending on the weather, that holiday homes will be full during certain periods this summer. This will not have an impact on rent, as prices are set at the beginning of the year, Westtoer explained.

Additionally, compared to a similar survey from 2016, the organisation sees a shift in when people make a reservation for their accommodation: last-minute bookings (up from 23% to 30%) and bookings made four months before the stay (from 19% to 22%) are on the rise.

"The recovery of the tourism sector already started last year. After a good spring, the expectations for the coming summer are positive," said Sabien Lahaye-Battheu, Delegate and Chairman of Westtoer. "Belgian holidaymakers continue to appreciate the coast, but the renewed interest from international visitors is especially hopeful."

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