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Brussels hotels record 'positive July' despite depressing weather

09:01 08/08/2023

As the rain finally stops falling, Brussels hotels have still done well in July, according to the Brussels Hotels Association (BHA) – with an average occupancy rate of 68.7%.

This represents a 1.5% increase over 2022 and only slightly less than the record year 2019 (74.7%), causing the sector to hope for a proper recovery, post-pandemic.

The BHA took into account the 600 extra hotel rooms available compared to 2019, when noting that July’s downpours do not seem to have significantly affected the level of Brussels tourism.

The association attributed the relatively high occupancy rate to the significant number of big events taking place in July - notably the European Union/Latin America summit, the Tomorrowland festival, many big-name concerts at the Roi Baudouin stadium including Mylène Farmer and the Weeknd and the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

For the summit, rooms for some 30 European delegations were needed as well as 26 European leaders and their entourage. Tomorrowland, taking place the two last weekends of July, generated more than 60,000 nights in Brussels hotels.

Notably the occupation rate of the 22 July weekend including the Mylène Farmer concert was 89.6%; while the following weekend, hotels achieved 89.4% due to the Grand Prix.

And while there are not so many major events in August, BHA secretary general Rodolphe Van Weyenbergh is not worried. “This should not affect the number of city trips, for example to discover Brussels Flowertime that takes place from 11-15 August,” he said.

Brussels mayor Philippe Close was also confident. “We have been working for years to make Brussels more attractive. The figures have been achieved, and with them thousands of resulting jobs,” he said.

Delphine Houba, responsible for tourism in the capital, agreed that the healthy hotel rates show that "Brussels has confirmed its position as an essential summer destination, despite the gloomy weather".

She added: "Our capital attracts a wide range of visitors. The most loyal are the French. I am also pleased to see the return of tourists from further away destinations such as the United States."

For Pierre Coenegrachts, deputy chief executive of Visit Wallonia, it was the same story in the south of the country.

“We have had a positive month despite the weather,” he said, adding that the province’s treasures have proved that Wallonia is a destination not only for Belgians, but it also attracts people from destinations far further afield.

Written by Liz Newmark