Preliminary data from the statistics agency Statbel reveal that tourism in Flanders soared in 2023, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. A total of 14.6 million domestic and international tourists

visited the region, marking a 6% increase from 2022 and a 1% rise from 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.

Of these visitors, 6.9 million hailed from Belgium, reflecting a 6% surge compared to 2019. While there was a slight 2% dip in international tourists, the average length of stay has increased significantly.

The majority of foreign tourists originate from neighboring countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the UK. Dutch tourists accounted for 4.1 million overnight stays in 2023, indicating a substantial 16% growth from 2019. Despite challenges posed by travel restrictions and Brexit, the number of overnight stays from the UK witnessed only a marginal 3% decrease from 2019.

Tourism Minister Zuhal Demir expressed delight at the resurgence of tourism in Flanders, attributing it to concerted efforts made by Visit Flanders to maintain the region's appeal as a destination, even during the restrictive lockdown periods.

The resurgence in tourism has also brought a notable uptick in visitors to museums, experience centers, and attractions, with a 6.6% increase recorded compared to 2022. Particularly noteworthy is the 15.9% spike in museum visits, attributed in part to the reopening of Antwerp’s Fine Art Museum, KMSKA, following an extensive 11-year renovation.

Every two years, Flanders’ Statistical Authority assesses the economic impact of tourism. In 2022, tourist spending amounted to 9.5 billion euros, constituting 2.6% of total gross value added. Moreover, employment in the tourism sector witnessed a steady rise, with 301,327 individuals employed in 2022, reflecting 6.9% of all jobs.