Westhoek welcomes record number of tourists

The Westhoek area, in the west of West Flanders, is enjoying record numbers of visitors from Belgium and abroad. The milestone coincides with the first year of the centenary of the First World War, which includes many special events. The city of Ieper and its "In Flanders Fields museum" (IFFM) remain top of the bill.

The number of guided tours that are being booked in Ieper is now already double the total number of last year. The IFFM is also seeing soaring visitor numbers; they have doubled in two years' time.

The Ieper Alderman for Tourism Jef Verschoore told the VRT that "the temporary exhibition "War and Trauma" is just short of 100,000 visitors, which is huge for a temporary exhibition. The museum itself also boasts excellent figures. The month of August will most probably exceed the mark of 50,000, and we expect to end the year with a total of over 400,000."

Other war sites are also attracting the big crowds as the start of the Great War is being remembered. The Memorial Museum in Zonnebeke is seeing double visitor numbers, welcoming almost 120,000. The renewed "Museum aan de IJzer", in Diksmuide's IJzer Tower, is also a hit with 80,000.