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Belgian coast benefits from staggered timing of school holidays

08:55 30/04/2024

Tourism on the Belgian coast is benefitting from the staggered timing of Flemish and French-language school holidays, which has effectively extended the spring break period.

At least half of all hotel rooms were booked last weekend for the start of Francophone schools’ spring holiday, according to the provincial company Westtoer.

For the Ascension weekend from Thursday 9 May, the average occupancy rate is 65% and favourable weather conditions may lead to additional spontaneous bookings.

“The coast has become more than ever a four-season destination,” Westtoer said. “Two-thirds of sales are generated outside the summer months.”

French-speakers also own some 20,000 holiday homes on the Belgian coast, many of which will likely be occupied during the break and also lead to an uptick in retail and other tourism-related industries.

The Wallonia-Brussels Federation decided to change the school rhythm to "bring it more into line with the needs of pupils". Periods of seven or eight weeks of lessons now alternate with two-week holidays.

In 2021, 16% of all visitors to the Belgian coast were French-speaking. During their stay, they spent about €550 million, or 21% of the total.

The Beaufort Triennial, the Blankenberg Port Festivals, the Westkust Cycling Weekend and the Ensor Year in Ostend are expected to bring an additional boost to coastal tourism.


Written by Helen Lyons