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    Ghent tourism ‘hardly’ feels coronavirus impact

    In Ghent, the largest city in East Flanders which is very popular with tourists, the effect is negligible. Credit: Wikipedia

    Despite the global impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) on tourism and travel, the hospitality sector in the Belgium province of East Flanders has not felt the effects, it said.

    Despite one in three businesses in the Flemish catering and hospitality industry feeling the consequences of the virus, in the province of East Flanders “only 22 bookings were cancelled in the entire month of February,” said the non-profit organisation Gent Hotels.

    Hardly any cancellations in hotels or restaurants in East Flemish cities such as Aalst, Sint-Niklaas or Lokeren have been recorded, said Tim Joiris of Horeca Oost-Vlaanderen on Friday on Radio 2. In Ghent, which is very popular with tourists, the effect is negligible, according to him.

    “In February, there were only 22 cancellations in the hotel sector in Ghent. They have only come from people in infected areas, it seems. Of those 22, most came from Italians,” said Rudy De Wit of Gent Hotels to VRT.

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    In Bruges, another city that is very popular with tourists and only about 50 km away from Ghent, the sector said they felt the effect of the virus on their bookings. “We notice that people from all over the world are a little reluctant to book a hotel. They are waiting to see what the consequences of the coronavirus will be,” said Dimitri Thirion of non-profit organisation Hotels Brugge, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.

    At the moment, a special cancellation policy applies in Ghent, which is always implemented in exceptional circumstances, such as terror attacks or natural disasters. “Customers can cancel free of charge. However, we do encourage them not to cancel their reservation entirely, but to move it to a later date,” said De Wit.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times