Tourist overnight stays
Over 26 million tourist overnight stays in the Flemish Region
In 2018 tourists booked over 26 million overnight stays in the Flemish Region. Business travellers account for 1 in 5 booked overnight stays. The other overnights are booked with the purpose of holiday, recreation and leisure.
In the wake of the Brussels attacks in March 2016, 2016 saw fewer foreign tourists spending nights in the Flemish Region. 2017 showed signs of recovery and in 2018 there were considerably more overnight stays, as compared to 2015. Both the number of overnight stays of business travellers and the overnight stays for leisure were on the increase compared to 2017.
In 2016 foreign tourists in particular ignored Flanders as a holiday destination, whilst an increasing number of Belgians spent their holidays in Flanders. Compared to both 2015 and 2017, we see a rise in the number of overnight stays by Belgians as well as by foreigners in 2018.
Hotels are holidaymakers’ preferred type of accommodation
Out of all forms of accommodation, tourists prefer hotels. In 2018, hotels accounted for over 10.5 million nights or approximately 40% of the total number of overnight stays. Holiday cottages and holiday parks are popular, representing a market share of 18% and 16% respectively. Furthermore, 13% of overnight stays are booked in youth hostels and other youth accommodation centres. The other types of accommodation account for less than 10% of the overnight stays.
On average, tourists spend 1 to 2 nights at hotels and guest houses, whereas they spend 3 to 4 nights in youth hostels, holiday parks and camping sites and up to 6 nights in holiday cottages.
Over half of overnight stays booked by Belgians
Belgians account for nearly 15 million overnight stays or 56% of the total number of overnight stays. In addition, 30% of overnight stays are by tourists from one of the neighbouring countries. Especially the Dutch, but also German, French and British frequently visit Flanders on business or holidays. Finally, there are 3 million overnight stays (14%) by tourists from non-neighbouring countries.
Highest number of overnight stays at the seaside and in the art cities
Close to 1 in 3 of all overnight stays in the Flemish Region are spent at the seaside. In total, this involves 8 million overnight stays. With 1.5 million, Koksijde attracts the highest number of overnight stays. Ostend, De Haan and Knokke-Heist each represent at least 1 million overnight stays.
The 5 art cities (Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Leuven and Mechelen) jointly account for just under 6.5 million overnight stays, or 25% of all overnight stays, with Bruges and Antwerp each representing over 2 million nights. Ghent, Leuven and Mechelen jointly account for another 2 million overnight stays. Hence 9 seaside towns and the 5 art cities jointly account for over half of all overnight stays. The remainder of the overnight stays are booked in the other Flemish towns and cities, with the largest numbers seen in a few towns that are home to holiday parks in the northeast of the Flemish countryside. The area around Brussels airport (Zaventem) also sees a strikingly high number of overnight stays.
More overnight stays in Flemish Region than in other regions
In total, 2018 saw over 26 million overnight stays in the Flemish Region. This is 3 times the 8.2 million overnight stays in the Walloon Region and nearly 4 times the 7 million in the Brussels Capital Region.
The higher number of overnight stays spent in the Walloon Region, as compared to the Brussels Capital Region, can be explained by the average duration of the stay. The number of tourists staying in Brussels is almost as high as the number staying in the Walloon Region, but on average, they spend longer in the Walloon Region (2.3 nights) than in the Brussels Capital Region (1.9 nights). In the Flemish Region, holidaymakers spend even longer: an average of 2.5 nights.
In the Brussels Capital Region, foreigners account for nearly 80% of overnight stays. In the Flemish and Walloon Regions, this share stands at 44%. In the Flemish and Walloon region overnight stays by Belgians prevail.