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Belgians continue to favour home nation and France as summer holiday destinations

People enjoy the summer weather is Ostend, Belgium (BELGA PHOTO KURT DESPLENTER)
06:13 07/06/2022

A few weeks before the summer holidays begin, the Belgian Association of Tour Operators (ABTO) has published its ranking of the most popular vacation destinations, RTBF reports. Unsurprisingly, France remains the favourite destination of Belgians, while their home country comes in second place.

According to the figures collected by ABTO, Belgians have almost the same intention of going on holiday as before the pandemic. Some 77% of them say they intend to have a vacation within the next 12 months. Before Covid, this proportion was 80%.

Their favourite destination has not changed. 18% of travellers surveyed plan to spend their holidays in France. Belgium is the second most popular destination with 11% of Belgians intending to spend their holidays here. This is followed by Spain (10%), Italy (7%) and Germany (5%). These are destinations for which Belgian holidaymakers prefer to take the car.

Among Belgians who will go on holiday by plane, 16% of travellers surveyed will travel to Spain, 14% to Greece, 9% to Egypt and 7% to Turkey.

As for the favourite activities of Belgian holidaymakers, they are varied. 63% of travellers will take a city break, 41% will head for the beach, 38% favour activities in the middle of nature and 30% will visit cultural places.

For the 11% of Belgians who will stay in Belgium this summer, the Belgian Coast remains a popular destination, while Wallonia is also expected to attract some of these holidaymakers. In 2020 and 2021, Walloon cottages and guest rooms have done particularly well, with Belgians preferring, for corona-related reasons, not to travel too far from home.

This year, the Walloon tourism industry is approaching the summer with some optimism. "We currently arrive at an occupancy rate of 60% for cottages and 40% for guest rooms,” said a spokesperson for the Gîtes de Wallonie. “Large capacity cottages, on the other hand, are much fuller. We are at an occupancy rate of nearly 80%."

The level of bookings could be closer to that of the period pre-Covid. "The occupancy rate is likely to increase by the end of June, but the outlook is relatively good,” the spokesperson added. “We will probably see figures similar to those of 2019 this year."

The development of overnight tourism in Wallonia does not only concern traditional tourist regions such as the Ardennes, the East of the Walloon Region or Hainaut.

The countryside around Ath is also experiencing a tourist boom led by the increase in available accommodation, including cottages and guest rooms. "When we look at the figures of the last 15 years, we discover that in the early 2000s, we were at 6,500 nights per year,” said Laurent Dubuisson, director of the Ath Tourist Office. “We are now at almost 40,000 overnight stays over the year." Visitors mainly come from France and Belgium but also from the Netherlands, he added.

Written by Nick Amies