Brussels had a record year for tourism in 2019, according to figures from the tourism and conference agency visit.brussels.
The sector in general saw overall growth of 7% in 2019, up from 8.8 million overnight stays in 2018 to 9.4 million this year. But for Brussels alone, the increase in overnights was 11%, pushing the total to record levels. The tourism industry is finally finding its former vigour, following the disastrous double blow of terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, which depressed all tourism from non-European countries, followed by the attacks in Brussels and Zaventem in March 2016, from which the Belgian tourism industry is only now recovering.
The main driving force behind this year’s record numbers has been the number of conferences organised in the Brussels region, visit,brussels said.
“That has allowed us almost to come into a balance between business tourism and pleasure tourism,” said Patrick Bontinck, CEO of visit.brussels. For 2019, according to the agency, business visitors made up 37% of the trade, with holiday tourists accounting for 48.22%. “That’s better if we want to guarantee a constant occupation of hotels, instead of a succession of peaks and troughs. At the moment, we’ve reached an occupation rate of 80% during the week and 65% at the weekends.”
The month of January 2019 was the lowest scoring month, with 62% hotel occupancy, rising in June and October to over 83%. The main countries of origin of hotel guests are Belgium (24%) followed by France (11.89%), Germany (6.66%), the UK (6.58%), the US (5.97%) and Spain (5.68%). The category “other” accounted for 24.23% of all guests.
The Brussels Times