Return of holiday home owners welcome boost for coastal economy

Retailers on the Flemish coast have welcomed last week’s sudden decision to allow proprietors of holiday homes to visit their properties earlier than planned.  Visits had been seen as non-essential travel and were banned to stem the spread of corona virus, but since Wednesday evening that they are no longer.

Renters who possess a one-year contract are also welcome to travel.

Retailers, who suffered loss of trade as a result of corona measures, are over-the-moon.  Second home owners spend a lot more than hotel guests or people who rent accommodation.  Many shops on the Flemish Riviera live by the spending of holiday home owners, estimated to total a billion euros a year.

Add hotel guests and visitors renting accommodation for shorter periods and 1.5 billion euros is channelled to the local economy. Holiday home owners have a particularly big impact.  In resorts like Middelkerke and Nieuwpoort half of all dwellings are holiday homes.

“Day-trippers are interested in bathing and the beach.  They will have a bite to eat, but most of the time they are swimming, taking in the sun and playing with the kids” says Christophe Vandenbussche of the retailers’ organisation Unizo.  “Holiday home owners are here for days, weeks and even months and will make time to go shopping”.

Holiday homeowners spend their cash in food stores, but also in shoe and cloths shops. Day-trippers spend most of their readies in bars and restaurants – still worth around 1.3 billion euros annually to the coastal economy.

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