Belgians on summer trips return to pre-Covid levels

Belgians on summer trips return to pre-Covid levels
A young child playing on the beach. Credit: Belga/ Dirk Waem

The Belgian tourism sector's comeback from the global Covid-19 health pandemic has been an uphill battle, hampered by lockdowns and travel measures, however, figures from summer 2022 show positive signs of recovery.

In the third quarter of 2022, nearly nine million trips were booked by people living in Belgium, nearing figures recorded in pre-Covid 2019, Statbel announced on Wednesday. The number of trips even surpassed the averages of previous years, especially those booked within Belgium's borders.

"We travelled almost 6% more in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the average of the same period from 2016 to 2019. The number of trips within Belgium is even 26% higher than this average," Statbel noted.

The number of trips increased in Q3 last year, nearing levels seen during the same period in 2019.

The breakdown between trips abroad and trips booked to Belgian destinations remains about the same as in 2019 (77% abroad compared to 23% within Belgium).

Looking at Belgian destinations in detail, trips to the coast remain popular (36%). This was also largely driven by the various heatwaves that engulfed Belgium this summer, seeing people flock to the seaside in droves. The number of international tourists booking stays at the coast also increased significantly.

A quarter (27%) of trips booked by Belgians within the country's borders took place at the Ardennes, while 12% of tourists headed to the art cities (however, this is a 61% increase compared to the average of the 2016-2019 third quarters).

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When booking holidays abroad, European countries remain the most popular, however, Belgian travellers are already daring to go further afield: some 800,000 trips outside Europe were booked in 2022, 12% more than in 2016-2019.

While the number of business trips at the start of 2022 remained relatively low as a result of persisting travel measures, this improved over the course of the year. Overall, there were more business trips last year compared to the average of the third quarters between 2016 and 2019.

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