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Belgian coast sees disappointing holiday as tourists opt to go abroad
The Belgian coast saw a disappointing season during the two-week autumn holiday period, recording a 12% drop in overnight stays this year compared with the same period in 2022.
An estimated 1.1 million overnight stays were recorded, according to the tourism office Westtoer - 250,000 during the first week of the French-speaking holiday period and 850,000 during the second week, which is the only week of the holiday period for Flemish schools.
Average hotel occupancy also took a hit at 40%, which is nine percentage points lower than last year, Le Soir reports.
The particularly wet weather also put a damper on last-minute bookings, but Westtoer’s president Sabien Lahaye-Battheu remained optimistic.
“Despite the changeable weather, the coast remains a very popular autumn holiday destination for both French- and Dutch-speaking Belgians,” Lahaye-Battheu said. “By extending the holiday period, we are also extending the tourist season.”
While the coast saw a decline, tour operators taking Belgians abroad spoke of record numbers. TUI Belgium said that it had 46% more bookings than last year.
“After the health crisis we've been experiencing for a few years, travellers are much calmer and want to go on holiday again,” spokesperson Florence Bruyère told RTBF. “And once again, they're planning their holidays early.”
Bruyère said the change in the French-language school schedule had helped.
“French-speaking schoolchildren are taking advantage of a two-week holiday this year for the second time running,” said Bruyère, explaining that the two-week holiday gives families the opportunity “to travel a little further and more comfortably”.
Another reason for going abroad is the same for avoiding the coast close to home - rainy weather.
Among the most popular destinations sought by Belgians were Tenerife, Djerba, Lanzarote and the Turkish Riviera, for an average budget of around €1,000.