BELGA/CRABBE

Bruges museums face slump in visitor numbers

Anybody who has been in Bruges recently won’t be surprised. Our leading tourist destination is once again welcoming tourists but not yet in the numbers we are used to. Vistas of the streets of the Bruges Old Town thronged with tourists are now a distant memory from yesteryear. 

Visitor numbers at Bruges Museums can be an indication of the overall health of the local economy that with its countless hotels, bars and restaurants is highly dependent on the tourist trade.  Last year, before the corona crisis, Bruges Museums welcomed 800,000 visitors.  So far this year, 200,000 people have set foot in a museum in Bruges.

The City of Bruges is now having to take drastic action.  Next year entry fees will go up by one or two euros.  In this way the city hopes to limit the financial damage, though city cabinet member Blontrock concedes a couple of euros on a ticket won’t suffice to make good the enormous losses of 2020: “We’re are steadily rebuilding, but it’s not like before, not by a longshot. One or two euros won’t save our bacon, but we couldn’t charge 5 or 10 euros extra.  Let’s just say this will alleviate the pain.”

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