To start, the number of tourists that visited Belgium increased steadily between 2011 and 2018, despite a slight decrease in 2016. In 2011, just over 13.6 million arrivals have been registered, increasing to approximately 17.5 million visitors by 2018. Brussels experienced a similar trend in the number of tourists. In 2015, 3.53 million visitors traveled to the capital region, before a decrease to three million in 2016. As of 2018, Brussels counted 3.91 million arrivals. Most of the tourists were Dutch or French. In 2018, Belgians accounted for 21 percent of overnight stays, while French visitors made up 10 percent.
In terms of hotel establishments, Brussels-Capital Region offered nearly 190 hotels in 2018, which is, compared to 2017, an increase of three hotels. Regarding the occupancy rate of hotel accommodation, it decreased drastically in 2016 to 61 percent. This significant drop was mainly the result of the terrorist attacks in and around Brussels, which happened on March 22, 2016. In 2017 the occupancy rate grew again and as of 2018, it amounted to 74.4 percent. The average hotel room price in Brussels amounted to 117 euros, an increase of 13 euros compared to 2014.
Compared to hotels, Airbnb prices are slightly lower. Over a period of 12 months in 2018, the average price of an Airbnb in Brussels-Capital Region amounted to approximately 105 euros. April was the most expensive month with at 113 euros. Concerning the number of overnight stays at Airbnb and HomeAway rentals, they totaled roughly 1.43 million. The busiest month was October with just over 140,000 nights.
The Brussels-Capital Region is also a popular location for business travelers. The number of congresses and meetings of the Union of International Associations (UIA) had a significant increase in events between 2013 and 2016, before decreasing again from 2016 onwards. The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) had a decrease between roughly the same period but increased again from 2017 onwards. In 2018, 846 congresses and meetings of both associations were organized. The number of business overnight stays in the capital region reached 3.74 million, a difference of 105,000 nights compared to the previous year.
A city attracts visitors with its historical buildings, to make one example, but cultural events and attractions are equally important for tourism. In 2018, Brussels-Capital Region organized approximately 4,300 concerts, 1,871 events related to theater/shows and just over 900 sports events took place. Leading free events in Brussels were Plaisir D’Hiver/Winterpret with nearly three million visitors, while Foire Du Midi/Zuidfoor and Brussels Jazz Weekend attracted 1.5 million and 425,000 people, respectively.