Tourism in Flanders exceeds pre-pandemic levels

A total of 14.6 million domestic and international tourists visited Flanders in 2023, according to preliminary figures from statistics agency Statbel. The number is 6 per cent more than in 2022 and 1 per cent more than 2019, before the pandemic. 

6.9 million tourists came from Belgium, 6 per cent more than in 2019. While there was a 2 per cent fall in international tourists, visitors are staying longer on average. 

Most foreign tourists come from the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK. Visitors from the Netherlands counted for 4.1 million overnight stays in 2023, 16 per cent more than in 2019. Numbers from the UK, which fell in 2021 due to travel restrictions and Brexit, grew again in 2023, with only 3 per cent fewer overnight stays than in 2019. 

“It gives me particular pleasure that tourism in Flanders is clearly back on top after a dark period,” Tourism minister Zuhal Demir said in a statement. 

“We have continued to work very hard with Visit Flanders in recent years to keep Flanders in the spotlight as a destination, even during the lockdowns when travel was not really possible. It is great to see that all these efforts are paying off.”

Museums, experience centres and attractions received 6.6 per cent more visitors than in 2022. For museums alone, there was a 15.9 per cent increase, which Visit Flanders partly attributes to the reopening of Antwerp’s Fine Art Museum, KMSKA, after 11 years of renovation.

Every two years, Flanders’ Statistical Authority maps the economic impact of tourism. Spending by tourists amounted to 9.5 billion euros or 2.6 per cent of total gross value added in 2022. In 2018, 289,212 people were employed in the sector, accounting for 6.9 per cent of all jobs. That rose to 301,327 in 2022. 


#FlandersNewsService | Tourists on a boat ride in Bruges, May 2023 © BELPRESS

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