"Record number of tourists in Flanders"

The Flemish Tourism Minister Ben Weyts has released tourism statistics for Flanders for the first four months of the year. Flanders is exceeding the record figures set in 2015. "The sector proves its strength to rebound. The fact that we are passing the 2015 milestone, is surprisingly good news."

2016 was a bummer, due to the aftermath of the terror attacks in Brussels and Zaventem. The ill effect has completely gone this year. Flanders welcomed 311,600 tourists from January through April, a figure which is 9 percent up on the year. The number of overnight bookings was at 475,300, about 6 percent up. Compared to two years ago, the increase is 2 percent.

Spanish, Irish and Russian tourists

Both foreigners and Belgians find their way to Flanders, but the former account for the biggest increase. Numbers for international visitors ballooned, climbing 12 percent, compared to 6 percent for Belgians.

Spanish (+29 percent) and Irish (+20) tourists are finding their way to Flanders, but there was also a small Russian invasion to be seen thanks to the strong Russian Ruble (+42). Americans (+17) are coming back, just like the Canadians (+29), while the Chinese share is also recovering (+13). Looking at our neighbouring countries, Germany (+9) and the Netherlands (+6) show the strongest growth. 

Gastronomy, Flemish Masters and cycling culture

Ben Weyts (Flemish nationalist) is delighted. "The hard times are behind us. We are growing again. This new growth was made possible thanks to the hard work by the Flemish Tourism Board (Toerisme Vlaanderen) and the sector itself."

"We didn't panic and worked hard. After 22 March (the day of the attacks, red.), we worked out a specific strategy, using our main assets: our gastronomy, the Flemish Masters and the cycling tradition. All this is paying off now."