The National Bank sent researchers to red light districts across Belgium to count the number of clients, in order to make an estimation. "That we are now passing the threshold of 1 billion, is mostly due to inflation and the rising population", says Geert Sciot of the National Bank. The sex industry turnover is just as much part of the Gross Domestic Product as services supplied by bakers or butchers, he underlines.
Last year's figure is 27 percent up on 2008. The National Bank took into account classic forms of prostitution or massage places, but also sex workers in private clubs, and private services provided at people's homes or escorts, which still account for the biggest number of cases with more than 50 percent. Digital sex services provided by web cams for example were not included in the research.
This is how researchers made their calculations
Sociologist Stef Adriaenssens of Leuven University, who cooperated in the research, says countings were made using people in the field but also CCTV footage (this footage was destroyed later on). In order to know how much someone paid, they didn't use the prices listed by sex workers, but the data reported by clients on specific websites.
A private visit by a sex worker turns out to be the most expensive, with 148 euros on average. Window prostitution will set you back 67 euros on average for one visit. In 2018 the National Bank counted 2.3 million clients spending this amount.
A private visit by an escort or sex worker will set you back 148 euros on average