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Cruise industry in Belgium - statistics & facts

Belgium offers the best of both worlds: an international cruise port, as well as an opportunity for those arriving to visit the historic city of Bruges or the EU capital of Brussels. Nonetheless, how does the Belgian cruise industry perform, and how many passengers utilize Belgium's cruise ports?

Looking at the global cruise market figures in 2020 and 2021, this branch of the tourism industry was no exception to also being impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The economic slowdown suffered by the sector was directly reflected in the revenue figures of the Belgian cruise segment, with a drastic decline of around 45 million euros between 2019 and 2020. Whereas the figures did not progress much in 2021, a better recovery is expected in 2022, with a predicted revenue of over 40 million euros for the Belgian cruise segment.

Belgian cruise passengers

The number of cruise passengers from Belgium fluctuated between 2012 and 2019, before collapsing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020. The highest volume was reached in 2014, with 73 thousand cruise passengers registered, while the lowest result of 10 thousand cruise passengers was unsurprisingly reported in 2020. The preferred cruise destinations of Belgians in 2020 were both the Africa-Middle East area as well as the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda region. Furthermore, in that year, most Belgian cruise passengers were aged between 60 and 69 years old.

Comparing Belgian figures on cruise passengers to the rest of Europe, Belgium was ranked 13th in 2020. Passengers from Germany and the UK/Ireland registered the largest volume, with approximately 790 thousand travelers combined, which is still very low compared to the non-pandemic numbers in 2019.

Cruise ports in Belgium

Belgium has an international cruise port in Zeebrugge, near Bruges, and one located in Antwerp. In 2020, the number of passengers utilizing the Port of Zeebrugge amounted to approximately 65 thousand, which is a significant decrease compared to the pre-pandemic context of the previous year. In the same year, the Port of Antwerp saw roughly two thousand passengers arriving and departing, which is a substantial difference compared to the Port of Zeebrugge. However, Antwerp processed more river cruises. In 2020, nearly 10 thousand river cruise passengers utilized the cruise port of Antwerp.

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