Arrivals by overnight-stay tourists
Over 10 million tourists arrived in the Flemish Region in 2018
In 2018, 10.3 million tourists arrived in the Flemish Region. Over 1 in 5 of these were business travellers.
In the wake of the Brussels attacks in March 2016, fewer tourists arrived as compared to 2015. 2017 saw a clear recovery, which continued all through 2018, in which a considerably higher number of arrivals than in 2017 were registered. Compared to 2015, Flanders welcomed almost 1 million extra arrivals in 2018, i.e. an 11% increase.
In 2016, foreign tourists in particular ignored Flanders as a holiday destination. In 2018, we witnessed a rise in the number of both Belgian and foreign tourists.
Hotels are holidaymakers’ preferred types of accommodation
59% of all arrivals were registered in hotels. Youth hostels and holiday parks accounted for respectively 11% and 10% of arrivals. All other types of accommodation represented a share of less than 10%: holiday cottages, guest houses, camp sites and short-stay holiday accommodation.
On average, tourists spend 1 to 2 nights at hotels and guest houses, 3 to 4 nights in youth hostels, holiday parks and camp sites, and up to 6 nights in holiday cottages.
The large majority of overnight stays are booked by domestic tourists and by tourists from the neighbouring countries
Belgian tourists and tourists from the neighbouring countries account for respectively 53% and 32% of all arrivals in the Flemish Region. Especially Dutch, but also German, French and British tourists frequently visit Flanders during their holidays. The remaining 15% of arrivals are arrivals by tourists from non-neighbouring countries.
Highest number of overnight stays at the seaside and in the art cities
n 2018, the 5 Flemish art cities (Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Leuven and Mechelen) jointly accounted for 3.5 million or 34% of all tourist arrivals. Bruges and Antwerp each attracted more than 1 million arrivals.
Many tourists also travel to the seaside: 21% of arrivals were registered in the seaside towns. Ostend (approximately 500,000 arrivals) and Koksijde, De Haan and Blankenberge were the most popular destinations (each welcoming from 280,000 to 310,000 arrivals).
All other towns together accounted for 45% of arrivals, with the largest numbers concentrated in just a few towns with holiday parks in the northeast of the Flemish countryside. A few other towns, such as Ypres, Hasselt and Kortrijk each welcome over 100,000 tourists per annum, whereas Machelen and Zaventem (airport area) jointly accounted for a further 500,000 arrivals in 2018.
More arrivals in the Flemish Region than in other regions
In 2018, the Flemish Region drew 10.3 million arrivals, compared to 3.5 million in the Walloon Region and 3.7 million in the Brussels Capital Region.
Even though the Walloon and the Brussels Capital Region each attract almost the same number of arrivals, tourists spend less time in Brussels: an average 1.9 nights versus 2.3 nights in the Walloon Region. In the Flemish Region, tourists spend an average of 2.5 nights.
In the Flemish Region, 53% of the arrivals were arrivals by Belgians. In the Walloon Region, this share was slightly higher (59%). The Brussels Capital Region saw much fewer Belgian arrivals, with 77% of arrivals accounted for by foreign tourists.