July was a record month for hotel occupancy in Brussels, according to the region’s tourism agency visit.brussels.
Across the month, hotels saw an average occupancy of 78.3%, more than two percentage points above last July’s record of 76%. Ten years ago, the figure stood at 57%.
More particularly, the weekend rate has now overtaken the weekday rate, a significant development in Brussels’ evolution as a tourist city, according to the agency’s spokesperson Jeroen Roppe.
“The weekend figures are now higher than during the week, and we never before saw that in Brussels,” he told Belga news agency. “That shows that the balance between leisure and business tourism is very healthy. Previously, Brussels was principally a business destination.”
The figure from ten years ago of 57% occupancy was not the low point: that came following the attacks of March 2016, when hotel occupancy dropped to 56.5%. In the course of the last 20 years, visit.brussels reports, tourism has increased by no less than 20%.
“The great advantage of Brussels is of course that we are very well situated geographically, less than two hours by train from Paris, London, Cologne and Amsterdam,” Roppe said. “That’s a huge benefit. Another major advantage is that we have more than one type of tourism to offer. There’s not only heritage, as in Rome. Brussels has a variety of things on offer.”
Contributing to the success of Brussels tourism this July, the agency says, were not only annual events like Tomorrowland, but this year’s special attraction: the Grand Départ opening stage of the Tour de France, which brought 767,000 cycling fans – many but not all of them tourists – to crowd the route in and around the capital.
“The most important effect in the longer term is the media interest, because Brussels was presented worldwide at its best,” Roppe said.