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Travel and tourism in Belgium - Statistics and Facts

Belgium's accessibility makes it a popular travel destination in Europe. With its coastline, artistic cities as well as gastronomy, this European country offers a wide variety of attractions and cultural activities for tourists. In 2019, the number of overnight tourist stays in Belgium peaked at approximately 42.5 million before declining to barely 20 million in 2020. This decline was due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020.

Tourism in Belgium during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The tourism industry was among the most affected industries during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This was no exception in Belgium with the total contribution of travel and tourism to the Belgian GDP dropping by almost 45 percent between 2019 and 2020. Furthermore, when looking at the forecast of the tourism sector GDP share in Belgium, figures were not projected to recover to their pre-crisis levels in 2021, with tourism’s share of GDP predicted to reach two percent that year down from four percent pre-pandemic.

The employment figures for the tourism sector also recorded a decline between 2019 and 2020. In the space of one year, the total contribution of travel and tourism to employment in Belgium decreased by approximately 17,000 jobs.

Domestic tourism in Belgium

Domestic travel refers to citizens of a country traveling within their country’s borders. In Belgium, domestic tourism plays a relevant role in the travel industry, since even outside of crisis periods, most tourist overnight stays were spent by domestic tourists. In 2019, as in 2020, Belgian tourists were ahead of Dutch, French, and German travelers when it came to overnight stays in their home country.

Moreover, in 2020, the main purpose of domestic travelers staying in accommodation in Belgium was for leisure and holiday. In addition, nearly five million domestic arrivals were recorded in Belgian accommodation establishments that year, with hotels proving to be the most popular accommodation type for Belgian tourists traveling in their own country.

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