To start, Belgium counted approximately 18 million tourists in total in 2019, of which the majority were domestic visitors. Close to 8.7 million tourists had Belgian citizenship. Tourists from the Netherlands accounted for nearly 2.2 million arrivals in the same year, while the number of visitors from China was among the lowest, at nearly 192,700. Regarding the favorite holiday destination of Belgians in 2019, a large share of the Belgian summer holidays between June and September were spent in France. Roughly 25 percent of the respondents spent their holidays in France, whereas 11 percent had chosen Spain as their summer holiday destination.
Belgian cruise passengers
The number of cruise passengers from Belgium fluctuated between 55 and 73 thousand from 2012 to 2018. The highest volume was reached in 2014 with 73 thousand cruise passengers registered, before decreasing again the following year. As of 2018, 70 thousand Belgians went on a cruise. The most chosen cruise destinations in 2018 where the Western and Central Mediterranean, though Northern Europe and the Caribbean/Bahamas/Bermuda were popular destinations as well. The majority of cruise passengers were aged 50 and older. In 2018, just over 40 thousand passengers were aged 50 years and older, whereas 4,000 tourists that went on a cruise were between 20 to 29 years old.
Comparing Belgian figures on cruise passengers to the rest of Europe, Belgium was ranked 10th in 2018. Passengers from Germany and the UK/Ireland registered the largest volume, with over 4.24 million travelers combined. Observing the European river cruise industry, the US/Canada and Germany represented most passengers’ onboard cruises on European rivers, whereas Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg (Benelux) counted just over one million river cruise passengers.
Cruise ports in Belgium
Belgium has an international cruise port in Zeebrugge, near Bruges, and one located in Antwerp. In 2018, the number of passengers utilizing the Port of Zeebrugge amounted to approximately 1.07 million, which is a slight decrease compared to the previous year. As of the same year, Antwerp saw roughly 26 thousand passengers arriving and departing, a significant difference compared to the Port of Zeebrugge. However, Antwerp processed more river cruises. In 2018, nearly 95 thousand river cruise passengers utilized the cruise port of Antwerp, whereas by 2019 this increased to 114,475.